Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Letter from Havlíčkův Brod

KI has received the following message from a resident of Německý Brod who might be the last known person to have seen the Torah in use.

Dear friends,

Let me introduce myself—my name is Jiří Koref and I live in Havlíčkův Brod (Německý Brod till 1945) where I was born in 1932.

There was the Jewish oratory in our house. Older members of the Jewish community (including my grandfather Alois Koref) led the worship because of the absence of a rabbi in our city. I remember brown wooden pews for approximately 60 persons.

I was a young boy in this time, that’s why I don´t remember the Torah, but my grandfather and my father used the Torah very often.

The oratory was closed after the German occupation in 1939 and the persecution of Jews began. We moved to Prague in 1940 and all the family was sent to the Nazi concentration camp Terezin.

Twenty-three of my close relatives were killed by Nazis from 1940 till 1945. My grandfather Alois Koref was the oldest one and he died of starvation in Terezin when he was 78. My cousin Věra Korefová, the youngest relative (she was 9 years old), and her parents were killed by Nazis in the Auschwitz gas chamber.

I studied at the medical faculty of the Charles University after the war. I worked as a resident at the department of dermatology in Havlíčkův Brod then and I led this department from 1974 till 1993. I am a retiree at this time.

I’m very glad that our Torah has survived and it’s in the hands of good people, now. I wish all the best to your community and I hope that the Torah will be felicitous for you.

Best regards,

Jiří Koref M.D.

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