Slovakia dedicates first new Torah scroll since Holocaust

"This is one of the most touching moments of my entire life," said president of the Bratislava Jewish community Dr. Tomas Stern.

By
September 8, 2019 06:40
1 minute read.
Synogogue in Slovakia

Synogogue in Slovakia. (photo credit: Courtesy)

A Torah scroll was dedicated in Slovakia’s capital Bratislava last week, making it the first one to be completed in the country since the Holocaust.

The celebration took place during the bar mitzvah of the son of the local rabbi, Rabbi Baruch Myers, who established Chabad of Slovakia in 1993.

The traditional Torah scroll procession made its way through the city, passing the presidential palace to the Chabad Educational Center, which opened in late 2017.

“This is one of the most touching moments of my entire life,” said the president of the Bratislava Jewish community, Dr. Tomas Stern, as he completed the final letters of the new Torah scroll.

Members of the procession participated in circle dancing at the Chabad center. They then returned to the hotel where the Torah scroll had been finalized to further celebrate with a banquet, speeches and the recitation of the customary discourse by the bar mitzvah boy.

Known as Pressburg under the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Bratislava’s Jewish community thrived until World War II. In the post-communist era, the community is again prospering, and has built a preschool, a Hebrew school and a summer camp. It also hosts holiday celebrations and festive meals, provides nonstop Torah classes, and accommodates Jewish tourists who come to the country.

A synagogue inside the center has a new ark, ark cover and Torah-reading platform covering – all donated, along with the new Torah, by community members. The center serves as an alternative place of worship to the only surviving synagogue in Bratislava. The synagogue in the city center is not always open and not always capable of catering to the prayer service needs of visitors.

Slovakia’s Jewish community currently numbers 2,600 people. Approximately 105,000 Slovakian Jews died in the Holocaust.


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