As its name indicates, our SWISS SCROLL comes from Switzerland, from a town called Delémont. It is a small town of some 10,000 inhabitants but it is also the capital city of the Canton du Jura. Delémont had a Jewish Community of 15-20 families though less than a handful of Jews live there now. There is a Synagogue, built in 1911, the only one left in the Jura region. It has been adopted by the City Council who maintains and manages it together with the Association of the Jewish Friends of the Delémont synagogue. It is often used for cultural events but it could function at any time as a shul as everything has been left in place to allow it to do so.
The Jews came to Delémont from the middle of the 19th C. onward. They came from neighbouring France and Alsace. Later one or two families with Eastern European origins came too. Later still, before and during the 2nd World War there were Jewish German refugees, some of whom settled in Delémont.
Also during the 2nd World War, two refugee camps for Orthodox Jews were established in neighbouring villages. The camp residents often came to Delémont, the nearest town with a Jewish community.
Our SWISS SCROLL arrived in Nottingham largely through the good offices of Charles Schoppig, a member of the Delémont Jewish community, whose daughter was married to John Hall, NPJC’s first chairman and president. NPJC had always felt the need to acquire a scroll we could call our own, as we only have THE CZECH SCROLL on permanent loan. When Maisie Rachmiel, one of our members came into a small inheritance and donated the best part of it for the specific purpose of acquiring a second scroll Charles asked if there was any chance that NPJC could have one of the many scrolls housed in the Delémont synagogue. Delémont agreed to let us have a scroll for whatever amount of money we had available and to let us chose one. With the help of one of his grandsons Guy, a rabbinical student at the Leo Baeck College, a scroll was selected. Charles had it checked by a sofer to make sure it was fit for use. When he flew with it to England he became annoyed with the flight attendant. She refused to let him hold the packaged scroll in his arms during the flight. On erev Rosh Hashana 1980 he carried it ceremoniously into the synagogue, dressed in the white mantle he had especially made for it. For this, he was made the very first Honorary Member of NPJC. Sadly, Maisie died shortly before the scroll reached Nottingham.
A few years ago a sofer came to Nottingham to repair our scrolls. He thought that THE SWISS SCROLL had probably been written in Hungary more than a hundred years ago by a left-handed scribe.