Story of North London shul's Slovakian scroll inspires UK ambassador

Envoy learns about scroll's history - and how it is used by Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue


Slovakian Ambassador Lubomír Rehák has praised a North London shul for keeping the memory of an extinct community alive by using its Torah scroll.

Mr Rehák was a guest at an event at Northwood and Pinner Liberal Synagogue based around its scroll from Spišská Nová Ves in the east of Slovakia. NPLS members have spent the past two decades researching the community that once lived there.

Cynthia Drapkin, a project leader, took the envoy through the findings and the NPLS archive. Senior rabbi Aaron Goldstein and emeritus rabbi Dr Andrew Goldstein, the president of Liberal Judaism, then showed him the scroll, explaining that it had survived the Holocaust by being hidden in a wardrobe compartment.

They also told him how it was used weekly on Shabbat and how children learned from it.

Clearly impressed, Mr Rehák said: “The fact that the Torah scroll of the extinct Jewish community from Spišská Nová Ves continues to be used for prayers in London is important not only for Jewish religious life and the memory of the tragic fate of Slovak Jews. [It] also serves as an inspiration and an encouragement for people-to-people contacts, co-operation and spiritual unity between our countries.”

Visits by shul groups to the town led by Ms Drapkin have forged relationships with locals and students now tend the Jewish cemetery.

The ambassador was presented with a book about Slovakian synagogues and catalogues from recent exhibitions at the Bratislava shul.


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