Story of the Bedfordshire Progressive/Rodef Shalom small Torah Scroll.
This story began in Czechoslovakia when the Nazis took over the country. They roared into smaller states like Moravia and Bohemia destroying synagogues, and carrying Torahs, Torah adornments, such as crowns and breastplates and mantles, back to Prague, the country’s capital.
By 1944, 1,564 Torahs and their silverware had been gathered. This particular scroll is approximately 300 years old, and belonged to a Czechoslovakian community from Brno, a town 116 miles south east of Prague. Brno dates from the first half of the 13th Century, where there was a large Jewish community up until 1454, until they were expelled and their synagogue and cemetery destroyed.
When Jews returned to the town in 1930, it's population stood at 10,202. The Nazis occupation devasted the community, and fewer than 2,000 survived. This Torah scroll was one of many stored by the Nazis during the second world war, intended for display in a museum of the ‘Vanished Race’. After the war this collection was brought to England under the auspices of Westminster Synagogue. Here the scrolls were logged, restored, and loaned to communities in need. Bedford received this scroll in the 1960s where it has remained ever since.