Kingston synagogue explores Czech links

By Jay Grenby, January 7, 2010
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Kingston Mayor Councillor Ian McDonald with KLS’s Rabbi Charley Baginsky, holding the Rychnov scroll

Kingston Mayor Councillor Ian McDonald with KLS’s Rabbi Charley Baginsky, holding the Rychnov scroll

Kingston Liberal Synagogue is giving members the opportunity to explore its links with the Czech communities of Tabor, Blatna and Rychnov through an exhibition based on the Czech scrolls which the shul has on permanent loan.

The display tells the story of individuals, families and communities in the Nazi era and beyond. Inspired by a visit from the research director of the Czech Scroll Memorial Trust, Michael Heppner, a team led by KLS members Naomi Cream and John Gould has built on previous research to assemble the material.

It was launched with a Shabbat memorial service, when 70 KLS members were joined by local mayors and representatives of other south London synagogues. This was preceded by a talk from Mr Heppner.

Congratulating KLS on its “outstanding” achievement, he told organisers that he had seen more elaborate exhibits on the theme, but few with such a high standard of content. “Your exhibition is such an important part of the revival of interest in the KLS scrolls.”

Exhibition compiler Linda Stone said afterwards that she had become absorbed in the subject. “It’s all about making a personal connection with the people who lived in these Jewish communities, which were virtually wiped out by the Nazis. We would encourage other communities to do the same.” She hopes to soon travel to Tabor with a KLS group to talk to the remainining Jews and offer support to their efforts to rekindle their Jewish heritage. “It would be a mitzvah.” The exhibition runs until January 31.

    Last updated: 4:11pm, January 7 2010