The Holocaust Torah MST#687 is one of the 1,584 scared scrolls that the Nazis sieved from the synagogues of Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakie to us in a "Museum of the Extinct People."
It was written in 1890 and used in the community of Uhersky Brod in South East Moravia.
All these torahs, rescued after World War II, were kept in the State Museum of Prague, Czechoslovakia. In 1964, they were moved to the Westminster Synagogue in London from which Temple Beth El obtained Torah MST#687 in 1987.
The Torah is on loan to the Utica congregation.
The Torah scroll was dedicated at a special Simchat Torah service on October 15, 1987, as a memorial for each Jew who perished during the Holocaust and as a lasting testimonial to survival of the Jewish faith, spirit, and heritage.
When the Torah is taken from the aron hakodesh on Yom Kippur, Shimeni Atzereth, Passover, Shavuoth, and the Holocaust Remembrance Sabbath, it is placed on a symbolic stand. The base of the stand is formed by the trunk of a large tree symbolizing the Torah as our Tree of Life. From the trunk emerge six branches representing the six million of our faith who perished in the Holocaust. Five of the six branches are bare while the sixth shows a few leaves sprouting at its tip to represent that out of the ashes of the Holocaust emerges the continued life of our people through Torah.
It was almost forty years after the war, after the last of the camps were liberated, that Temple Beth EI Cemetery had erected the Holocaust Monument and held Services for the six million Jews killed, including almost 1.5 million children. None of them had a gravestone and no one to say Kaddish for them.
The six foot tall black granite monument is here so that all people, whether Jew or Gentile, do not forget the Holocaust and its meaning for the past, the present and the future.
Yearly, during the Sunday morning before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish people of our community gather in Temple Beth EI Cemetery to cry and to pray by the light of the flickering six candles. The Memorial Prayer and the Kaddish are recited by all assembled.