At Kol Chai we are very proud of our Czech Memorial Scroll. It was collected from a town called Roudnice and Lebem, or in German, Raudnitz an der Elbe, a small town. The first synagogue there was built in 1619 and the first rabbi arrived in 1650.
Most 17th century Jews traded in grain and wine, raised cattle or worked as artisans and peddlers. About a third succumbed to the plague in 1713 and many were murdered after the expulsion from Prague in 1744. A public Jewish religious school with two classes was founded in Roudnice in 1841, but Jews began moving to larger towns in the late 19th century. By 1910, there were 9,249 people in Roudnice, of whom 320 were Jews.
After the Nazi invasion, Czech Jewish life was severely restricted. They could be fined for crossing a forbidden street, buying fruit or violated the shopping hours fixed for Jews. In 1941, the synagogue in Roudnice was closed. Transports to nearby Terezin began in November 1941 and in February 1942, the Jews of Roudnice were rounded up.
Our scroll is our link to the Jews of Roudnice, their assurance that they will not be forgotten. Every time we use our Czech scroll, we renew that link with the past. May their memory be for a blessing, for we carry with us their memorial. We are enriched by their history.