Last Sunday the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Frank Martin, with the Mayors of Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs, joined over 50 members and friends of the Thanet Jewish Community for a special and rare celebration – a Siyyum.
The siyyum (completion) is an event which celebrates the writing of a new Torah scroll, or on this occasion, the completion of repairs to an existing one – a very special Czech Memorial Scroll which was owned by the Jewish Community of Klatovy in the Czech Republic.
A Jewish businessman visiting Prague discovered a cache of over 1,500 Torah scrolls that had been stolen from other Jewish communities and stored there. He arranged for their purchase and they were transferred to London in 1964 where a programme of restoration was set in motion. Restored scrolls have been loaned to synagogues worldwide, kept and used as a memorial to those who died in the Holocaust.
The Thanet and District Reform Synagogue is custodian of the Klatovy scroll. After inspection by the scribe, Marc Michaels, the Community raised several thousand pounds to finance its repair. The return of the scroll to the synagogue is a major event for the Community. Torah scrolls are handwritten. At the siyyum Marc Michaels completed the writing in the presence of the community – a symbolic event. This scroll is a Holocaust survivor. It is about 200 years old and is a link with the Klatovy Jewish
Community, all of whom perished.
In the Thanet synagogue there is a memorial tree, on each leaf of which is written the name of one of those 278 Klatovy Jews who were deported firstly to Teresienstadt and then, for most of them, on to Auschwitz.