Kongregace Hakafa z USA

Lostice Synagogue, Congregation Hakafa

In June 2005 Rabbi Bruce Elder and members of the Hakafa Congregation from Glencoe (Illinois, USA) visited the town of Lostice. The congregation uses the 19th century Czech Torah scroll, which before WWII was owned by the Jewish community in Lostice.

Rabbi Elder performed a Sabbath worship service in the Lostice synagogue, which is the scrolls spiritual home. It was the first Jewish prayer service in the synagogue since the Nazi occupation. In 1964 the Czechoslovak government sold 1564 scrolls, including the Lostice Torah to London. Now they are scattered around the world. The Lostice Torah was the first to return home for a visit. The festive meeting and worship service were open to the general public and were attended by local inhabitants, mayors of surrounding towns, representatives of Jewish communities from Bohemia and Moravia, the counselor for cultural affairs from the U.S. Embassy in Prague, dean of the Olomouc Theological Faculty and many others.

The visit involved almost a year of planning and preparation. It was made possible thanks to the founding member of the Respect and Tolerance Foundation, Dr. Stanton Canter from California, who during his research into the Torahs of Lostice, contacted Rabbi Elder and familiarized him with the foundations work. Shortly after first contacts were made, the mayor of Lostice and coordinators of the Respect and Tolerance Foundation sent members of the Hakafa Congregation an invitation to visit the town, which they gladly accepted.

Shipping of the scroll from the United States to the Czech Republic was a quite complicated procedure, which required an assistance of the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic and two members of the U.S. Congress Hon. Tom Lantos and Jan Schakowsky, who later described the event in the following words: In this little town in the Czech Republic, from the ashes of the Holocaust, the embers of humanity continue to glow and, on one day this summer, burst into a glorious flame that we can only hope will light up many hearts for years to come.

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