Thanet shul honours lost Czech community

Pictured above: Sculptor, Lauren Fox with the Klatovy Memorial Tree
Below: Left to right:TDRS President, Godfrey Fischer; Mayor and Mayoress of Broadstairs, Cllr Peter Shaw and Frances Shaw; TDRS Chair, Ian Smiler; MP for South Thanet Craig Mackinlay; TDRS Life President, David Mirsky, Mayor and Mayoress of Margate, Cllr Robin Edwards and Dorothy Collins; Mayoress of Ramsgate, Mandy Shonk; Mayor of Ramsgate, Cllr Trevor Shonk; Rabbi Cliff Cohen.

The Thanet & District Reform Synagogue (TDRS) in Ramsgate included a dedication service for their newly commissioned sculpture, The Klatovy Memorial Tree, at their recent Yom HaShoah service conducted by Rabbi Cliff Cohen.

Over 50 people attended the civic service including the Mayors of Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs, South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay and members of Christ Church Canterbury University who had chosen the Klatovy scroll for a special project.

A special guest was Tom Barth, whose family came from Klatovy. He brought with him the Klatovy Scroll in the care of North West Surrey Synagogue.

The town of Klatovy in the Czech Republic was home to 278 Jews in the early 20th century but the community was wiped out as part of the Nazi programme of deportations to death camps in 1942. The Torah scrolls from Klatovy and the surrounding district were rescued in the 1960s, refurbished over the next 20-30 years under the auspices of the Westminster Synagogue and the Memorial Scrolls Trust and re-distributed to synagogues. The Thanet community is custodian of one of the Klatovy scrolls which is used regularly for their services.

Last year TDRS, whose Hebrew named is Etz Chaim, commissioned the memorial tree, created by Glasgow-based metalwork artist Lauren Fox, to form a centrepiece in the synagogue building. It includes 278 leaves, each individually inscribed by members of the community with the names of the lost Klatovy Jews, providing a personal and persistent link between the communities.