Northwood and Pinner Liberal helps its Czech mates

The town of Kolin has bought the house used by the rabbi of the once thriving local community to keep its memory alive


The Czech town of Kolin has bought the house used pre- and post-war by the rabbi of the once thriving local community, having been inspired by the work of Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue in keeping its memory alive.

Incorporating a room containing three mikvaot and a second home behind which is believed to have been occupied by the cantor, the property is located in the former Jewish ghetto. It is in a dilapidated state and funds are currently being raised by the town to restore it and open it to the public, as it has done with other former Jewish landmarks.

It was last occupied by Rabbi Richard Feder, a renowned scholar, theologian and survivor of Theresienstadt, who lived there until the 1950s, the community having been decimated by the Holocaust.

The relationship between the town and the North London shul dates back to the 1970s when NPLS inherited a Czech memorial scroll from Kolin.

Shul representatives started to visit Kolin and group trips followed. In recent times, NPLS teens have made annual excursions as part of their Kabbalat Torah course.

“This exciting development shows the importance of the continuous NPLS participation over 40 years in the life of modern-day Kolin,” said Michael Heppner, one of the earliest visitors.

“Back in 1989, when the town invited me to a meeting to discuss the possible restoration of the ghetto and its derelict synagogue, I challenged them by saying that I would bring 100 Jews to Kolin in 1992 to see how they were getting on. When we came, we found that the town had repaired the roof of the synagogue and begun to restore the interior of the 300-year-old building.

“By taking over the rabbi’s house, the town has taken another step to create a Jewish historic infrastructure. This should lead to Kolin becoming a significant Jewish tourist point in the Czech Republic.”

Other Jewish properties restored include shops and two cemeteries.

NPLS senior minister Rabbi Aaron Goldstein said: “My generation are committed to maintaining this rich legacy and connections to Kolin. Every year we take our Kabbalat Torah class to Kolin so they are instilled with a desire to remember the Jews murdered in the Shoah.”

Kolin Mayor Michael Kašpar said he wanted to “thank everyone at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue for their support.

“It took almost two years for this to happen but I am very happy now that both houses are the property of the town.

“Of course, we have to repair the houses so we can open them for the public.”

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