At Temple B'nai Chaim we are privileged to have Czech Memorial Torah Scroll #529, which was written in 1832.  It is believed to be one of the Torahs from the town of České Budějovice, once the capital of Southern Bohemia and part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire now in the Czech Republic.


The thriving Jewish community there built an ornate synagogue in 1868. On April 18, 1942, over 900 Jews of this city were deported to death camps and three months later the Nazis destroyed the synagogue. By the end of the war, only 120 of the 1,500 Jews of České Budějovice were still alive. When our former Rabbi, Charles Lippman, visited Czechoslovakia in 1991 only one Jew, an elderly woman, remained in the town.

TBC Czech Holocaust Scroll
TBC Holocaust Czech Torah Ten Commandments

The Nazis collected gold and silver ornaments, ceremonial objects and Torah scrolls from towns all over Europe. [See note]  A group of Czechoslovakian Jews was forced to arrange and catalogue the items which had been assembled in Prague. After the war, the Communist Government of Czechoslovakia released the Torahs scrolls.


In 1964, the Memorial Scrolls Committee of Westminster Synagogue in London arranged for the shipment of 1564 scrolls to the Synagogue, where they were catalogued and repaired and restored when possible. Each Torah was given a numbered brass plaque to identify its origin.Scrolls that could not be made fit for synagogue use were sent to religious and educational institutions as solemn memorials. Those that were repaired and could be used in religious service were sent to fulfill requests of synagogues all over the world in return for a contribution toward restoration expenses.

Memorial Scrolls Trust Logo


The Memorial Scrolls Trust, a U.K. non-profit organization, has recently begun to reach out to synagogues and other instititutions who received the Czech scrolls to gather updated information about them. They plan to continue to enhance their website so it becomes "a repository of all knowledge concerning the 1564 scrolls, the Jewish history of the towns they came from, the Jews of those towns, their fate, survivors stories, photos etc. Also where the scrolls are now, how they are used  and honoured etc." More information about the Memorial Scrolls Trust is available on their website.


In October 2015, a delegation of TBC members transported our Memorial Scroll to Temple Sinai of Sharon, Mass., where a number of Czech scrolls from around the region were reunited for a special ceremony and carried together in a procession. 

More background on TBC's Holocaust Memorial Scroll and historical photos from České Budějovice may be found on our special Pinterest site, "Our Torah - Memorial Torah Scroll #529." 

The certificate of identification for Memorial Torah Scroll #529.

 

Note:  Previously it had been thought that the Czech scrolls and other Jewish ceremonial objects had been collected by the Nazis as part of a plan to set up a "museum of an extinct race" after the war.  As it turns out there is apparently no documentary proof for this theory, and recent studies indicate that the saving of scrolls and other ritual objects was the result of actions of members of the Jewish community. For more information, see:

http://czechscrolls.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/mythbusters.html

http://czechscrolls.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/background-to-busting-myth.html

Temple B’nai Chaim office              203 544 8695
     

Administration

   
Rabbi Rachel Bearman - ext. 11   Cantor Jon Sobel    
rabbi@templebnaichaim.org         cantor@templebnaichaim.org
     
Jennifer Haynos  - ex.18    Alice Czuczka, Chairperson
Religious School Director   Education Committee
edadmin@templebnaichaim.org    

Religious School Teacher’s Contact Information

 
Michele Bender Joyma2@sbcglobal.net Jr Chai Class
Barbara Massy Bear bemassybear@gmail.com Sunday Kindergarten
Alex Lewson alewson@gmail.com Sunday First Grade
Dana Umerley dumerley@gmail.com Sunday Second Grade
Deborah Bernstein deborahbernstein11@gmail.com Sunday Third grade &
Sunday Fourth Grade
Rachel Clott Daqdog@aol.com Sunday Third grade &
Sunday and Hebrew Fourth Grade
Gail Espinosa Gailesp@gmail.com Sunday and Hebrew Fifth grade
Rayna Avizov Rayna345@yahoo.com Sunday Fifth grade and Hebrew Seventh Grade
Eedeet Hadaya Eedeet@gmail.com Hebrew Fifth Grade
Diane Brown mrsbrowntbc@gmail.com Sunday and Hebrew Sixth Grade
Ray Rosenblum Ray.Rosenblum@gmail.com Sunday and Hebrew Seventh Grade
Adam Gold opus445086@yahoo.com Sunday Seventh Grade

Update, March 21, 2016

Wi-ACT’s 32-member Steering Committee is pleased to report that things have been moving along very well for our family in the first two weeks following their arrival on March 10th.

The young widow mother, Manal, has continued to be everything we expected – and more and she and her children should be the poster family for refugee resettlement! They are so appreciative of everything that has been done. The house looks absolutely magnificent and has been very well cared for notwithstanding the number of young people in it. Additional work on childproofing and other improvements have been done by Wi-ACT’s Construction subcommittee under the leadership of Sonny Kern. Government interface subcommittee Chair Madeleine Wilken reports that the various government registrations with Social Security and CT Dept. of Social Services have now been completed. Clothing/furnishings subcommittee Chair Pat Hoeg reports that for now the family has all that it needs in terms of both clothing and furnishings as to the latter through the generosity of the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the transitional housing they have provided. When the family moves into its permanent housing, there will be a need for furnishings for it then, and the subcommittee will request donations at that time when the specific needs are known based on the housing.

The provision of interpreters has been very well established with a stable of 20 of them under the direction of Acculturation subcommittee Chairs Heidi Hawk and David Bloomer, and an able team of 8 ESL instructors is helping Manal and the children with their English under ESL subcommittee Chair Char Griffin. Education subcommittee Chair Phyllis Boozer reports that everything continues well there with medical exams for school enrollment being completed and our schools ready to receive their new students, probably starting next Monday. In fact, the four oldest children had a wonderful experience visiting Middlebrook and Cider Mill Schools last week, and the two oldest, Mohammad and Bisan, came back particularly enthusiastic with Bisan carrying a large collection of books and a detailed scheduling sheet and with a huge smile on her face!

The Chair of the Transportation subcommittee Jane Alexander (jane@nodhill.net) and the Chair of the Childcare subcommittee Joanna Schubkegel (jschub@me.com) continue to report the need for more volunteers. If you would like to volunteer your time for either of these very important activities (and as much or as little of your time as you’d like to volunteer), please contact them. The Employment, Finance, and Housing subcommittees will now be moving into action since the other preliminary steps post-arrival are moving so well to completion.

Contributions towards the work are always welcome and very helpful, with checks made payable to Temple B’nai Chaim where Wi-ACT’s funds are maintained and mailed to Wi-ACT’s Treasurer Don Weber, 27 North Valley Road, Ridgefield 06877, noting "refugee resettlement."

Finally, we thought you might enjoy reading about a trip the three oldest children made with two Steering Committee members to Payless Shoes in Norwalk. They report, "The kids are very independent and mature for their ages. They understood exactly what to do and dove right in. It was a lot of fun, and the smiles on their faces were priceless! Even the salesman commented on the kids’ smiles when they put on the shoes that they chose. He said it made his day! When we stopped for pizza, they were so happy. We found we could talk even though we didn’t speak the same language- a perfect morning!"


Update, Jan. 28, 2016:  We are expecting a refugee family in the very near future, and there are now a number of committees that will help to settle them. I will list the committees below and if you have interest in any of them, please email me at mdweb27@me.com, and I will put you in touch with the committee chair so that you may participate in the committee's activities.

The Committees are:
  • Housing-identify and arrange for housing
  • Clothing/furnishings-obtain, usually through donations, clothing and household furnishings 
  • Finance-establish family budget, help to obtain bank accounts/insurance, maintaining records of contributions in support of the family and related disbursements
  • Interfacing with government agencies-Social security, CT Dept. of Social Services, etc.
  • ESL-enable and teach English
  • Education-Ensure the entire family is able to pursue appropriate educational opportunities
  • Transportation-initially help to drive family as necessary and possibly eventually obtaining a car
  • Health-facilitate the family receiving appropriate medical services
  • Employment Assistance-provide support to family members to obtain and succeed in a job
  • Acculturation-integrate the family into American society

Those who volunteered when we resettled the Iraqi family several years ago found the experience both interesting and rewarding!


To All TBC Members:

TBC participates as a member of WI-ACT, Wilton Interfaith Action Committee (e.g., in the Stop Hunger Now meal packaging event). About 6 years ago WI-ACT helped resettle an Iraqi refugee family, which is doing well and living in Stamford.

In response to the increased need, the WI-ACT Steering Committee has decided to resettle another refugee family through the nonprofit Integrated Refugee & Immigration Services (IRIS) headquartered in New Haven. Refugees come from one of several Middle Eastern and African countries and have been fully vetted by Homeland Security, U.S. Intelligence agencies and the U.S. State Department.

This important effort will provide an opportunity for volunteers from the TBC Congregation to help this refugee family integrate into our society and customs. Potential areas that will require volunteers include, housing, education, health, relations with government agencies and transportation. TBC will also provide financial support for this refugee family’s resettlement through your voluntary contributions to the Tzedakah Fund (click here).  Make sure to indicate the donation is for the Refugee Resettlement Project.

See below for a fuller explanation of this project.

Congregants who participated in the past have found it to be very rewarding. If you are interested in volunteering or have any questions, please contact Don Weber, mdweb27@me.com or Peggy Zamore, peggyZ18@gmail.com.


Statement from Steve Hudspeth the Chair of WI-ACT


Wi-ACT will be doing Refugee Resettlement

December 21, 2015,   As you know, Temple B'nai Chaim is active in the Wilton Interfaith Action Committee (Wi-ACT), with TBC members serving on its Steering Committee and a number of us volunteering at its annual Stop Hunger NOW meal-packaging event each October. A half-dozen years ago, Wi-ACT did refugee resettlement work with an Iraqi family (husband, wife and two young children} who are living in Stamford now and doing quite well.

In light of the continuing and compelling need for refugee resettlement. WI-ACT's Steering Committee has determined that it will return to refugee resettlement work starting with one refugee family. It will once again do so with highly rated nonprofit Integrated Refugee & Irnmigrant Services, headquartered in New Haven. All of the refugees this agency supports come through U.S. government asylum programs with refugees heavily vetted by Homeland Security, U.S. intelligence agencies, and the State Department. Refugees come to it about half from three Middle Eastern countries (Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria) and half from three African countries (the Congo, Eritrea, and Sudan). Wi-ACT does not know yet where its family will come from. If its work goes well with that family, Wi-ACT is open to continuing with other refugee families.

The support program contemplates 6 months of intensive hands-on work by Wi-ACT with the family after which the family will be expected to be fully self-sustaining and independent, living in housing the family will have chosen with Wi-ACT's advice and help somewhere in this general area but most likely in a more urban setting than Wilton -- as with Wi-AC1 's previous refugee family from Iraq. At a recent training session with IRIS, the Wi-ACT Steering Committee members in attendance learned that six other Connecticut towns have groups ready and able to do this work also.

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Temple B'nai Chaim, there are two Congregational meetings each year, held in November and May. Please review the agenda below and note there are several new topics for this meeting. Attend what promises to be an informative meeting; this is your opportunity to provide input to the direction of our synagogue.  

To conduct official synagogue business, we need a quorum of attendees from 15 percent of our member units. Come, be counted in the quorum, and have your voice be heard.

AGENDA, 7:30 pm  --  
Click here for Committee reports.