Restored fragment of pre-war Torah scroll goes on display at site of Kielce pogrom in Poland


WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — A fragment of a pre-war Torah scroll returned to Kielce, Poland, after a two-year restoration, and went on display at the Institute of Culture, Meeting and Dialogue, located on a site significant to Jews.

A fragment of the Torah scroll was found in the Kielce Market Square just after World War II. For many years it was housed in the archives of the Łomża Scientific Society, where it was rediscovered several years ago. The scroll’s parchment was in poor condition, covered with a large amount of dust and mycelium. The restoration of the parchment was carried out by the National Museum in Kielce over the last two years.

It is estimated that the document is about 15 percent of the original Torah scroll.

“We do not treat these Torah fragments as artifacts or some other souvenir. We want to treat them as a relic of a 20,000-strong Jewish community that was murdered. In this way, we would like to display it in our Institute,” said Bogdan Białek, president of the Jan Karski Association, in an interview with the major daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.

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Kielce was the site of a pogrom in July 1946 after some 200 Jews, many of them former residents of Kielce, returned from Nazi concentration camps, the Soviet Union and places where they had taken refuge from the Nazis. The city was cleared of its Jews by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

It was sparked by a rumor based on a false report that Jewish residents of the town had kidnapped a Christian boy. A crowd attacked Holocaust survivors who lived in a building on Planty Street.

In the same building where the pogrom took place, today the Institute of Culture, Meeting and Dialogue run by the Jan Karski Association has its offices.

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