Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel (KI) is home to two Torah scrolls known as the Westminster Scrolls. Both scrolls are under the supervision of the Memorial Scrolls Trust, based in London, England. KI's Temple Judea Museum (TJM) holds almost 100 objects (fine arts and original artifacts) in a discreet collection titled, "Art and Objects of Oppression and Resistance".

The synagogue also owns two additional scrolls that were rescued by KI congregants in 1938:
"These two tallest scrolls, much taller than most and yet extremely light in weight because of the thinness of the parchment, are an inheritance from the tiny town of DRINGENBERG in Westphalia, Germany. These scrolls are actually refugees from Nazi Germany. They were brought here by members of the Lowenstein/Weitzenkorn family in 1938, the last Jewish family to leave a little town where Jews had dwelled in peace for many hundreds of years. Everyone else left. The synagogue was closed and this family, rather than bringing the few possessions they might have carried with them, brought these two magnificent Torah Scrolls and offered them to us" -  (Rabbi Bertram Korn, High Holyday sermon - undated)

In order to honor the Westminster and Dringenberg scrolls and this object collection the museum has undertaken a project to create this web page. KI member Dave Rosenthal was in charge of the research that tells the complete story of the KI rescued scrolls. Marlene Adler photographed the scrolls and the other objects.

When Sonnie Katz first suggested to Rita Poley that I should be asked to research and help design text on the Westminster Torah Scrolls for a new webpage, my initial reaction was “What scrolls ?? I had no idea what I was looking for, where to look and what to write.

After Rita pointed me in the right direction and gave me some leads, I found myself caught up in a fascinating and inspiring collection of history and religion, with both tragic and ecstatic stories. The tales of these torah scrolls reads like a Dan Brown, Robert Langdon “DaVinci Code’ novel exploring the heroic efforts that were expended to preserve and bring these precious scrolls out to the free world. It has been a moving experience to find and read these stories and I am thrilled to present them to K.I. and our world. Read about them and have a tissue ready. 

- David E. Rosenthal, MD, FACP


Other Views of the Scolls

How the Westminster Scrolls Were Saved

History of Prague Jewish Community

History of the Jews of Pilzen

History of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel

The Temple Judea Museum special object collection, "Art and Objects of Oppression and Resistance"

Selected descriptions of the scrolls and objects (photos available upon request)

Temple Judea Museum webpage

Westminster Memorial Trust website