WARSAW, Poland (JTA) — A fragment of a prewar 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.
The fragment 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 was carried out by the National Museum in Kielce.
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,” Bogdan Białek, president of the Jan Karski Association, said in an interview with the daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. “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.”
Kielce was the site of a pogrom in July 1946 after some 200 Jews, many of them former residents of the city, returned from Nazi concentration camps, the Soviet Union and places where they had taken refuge from the Nazis. The Nazis cleared the city of its Jews during the Holocaust.
The pogrom 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, the Institute of Culture, Meeting and Dialogue run by the Jan Karski Association now has its offices.