Sefer Torah #129, Ostrava and its Jewish History
Kingston Synagogue has a sefer torah on permanent loan from the Czech Scrolls Trust (www.memorialscrollstrust.org) from the town of Ostrava in the Czech Republic.
In 2005 members of Kingston Synagogue became interested in the origins of a Sefer Torah and this research project, led by David Lawson, grew developing a lively online community, re-establishing contacts between families from Sweden to Australia and South America to Canada. In effect, resurrecting Jewish Ostrava in virtual and actual reality. A regular series of Newsletters is produced and circulated worldwide and can be found on the website: www.kingstonostravacircle.org
David and his colleagues have written a book, published in 2018 by Vallentine Mitchell, Ostrava and its Jews: Now No-one Sings You Lullabies, ISBN 978 1 910383 75 9
The story of Ostrava and its Jews encapsulates in a small space (85 square miles) and a short time (ca 150 years) a miniaturised history of Central Europe. The book draws on family histories and eye-witness accounts, many unpublished.
The overarching theme is how, in a short time, immigrants – in this case Jews – transformed a small conservative market town into a vibrant, tolerant, caring, economic and cultural powerhouse; how it was destroyed almost overnight by bigotry and intolerance; and to ask how far the Ostrava story can provide lessons or guidance on 21stcentury political issues.
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