TYLER (KYTX) - During World War II, the Nazi's murdered six million Jews. They also destroyed synagogues throughout Europe. Tonight in theEmmy award-winning J.B.'s Journal, J.B. Smith shows us how a Holocaust Torah traveled to East Texas.
"The Torah is the first five books of the Hebrew Bible." Several Torah scrolls sit inside the ark at CongregationBeth El in Tyler. But one, has a special meaning.
"This particular scroll, our holocaust scroll comes from Roudnice in the CzechRepublic."
During World War II, Germany destroyed synagogues throughoutEurope. But many of the religious artifacts, were kept.
"The plan was following the war, the Nazis were going to setup a museum of the now extinct Jewish people."
Years after the war, the scrolls were discovered in aware house in Prague.
"Many of them are distributed throughout the world to be memorials everywhere to theJewish tragedy; spread light as harbingers of future brotherhood on Earth." Several were placed in Texas, one here in Tyler. "Behind me is scroll 990 out of the 1,564 scrolls
that were recovered."
The only remaining testament of a community – now gone. "The only thing that does exist from there is this Torah scroll which gets used, housed here in Tyler at Congregation
Beth El." Written by hand in 1850, this parchment of holy text survives to be
Despite the efforts to destroy its' spirit. "The Torah has been likened to our Constitution…it's the fundamental text, guides our values, our behavior, our world view."
A legacy of faith…. passed to a future generation. "I recognize that 70 years ago, the people that
were using that Torah scroll were celebrating Jewish community, reading from the Torah.
Each word, a message from a village that was lost, but never to be forgotten.
"While none of them survived WWII, their Torah did, that Torah brings us life, as we give it life." For CBS 19, I'm J.B. Smith, and that's my story.
Each year in April, the victims of the Holocaust are remembered in the U.S. and Congregation Beth El is holding a special concert of Israeli music at the Liberty Theater in downtown Tyler
on Saturday,April 6 at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are available at the door.