Dr Jan Randa
Dr. Jan Randa was born in 1911 in a small village in Subcarpathian Ruthenia. After studying at various Yeshivoth, he moved to Prague in 1930 where he was appointed deputy religious and Hebrew studies teacher in State Primary Public, Council and High Schools Prague I-IV.
His extensive Jewish knowledge was soon recognised by heads of the community and he was approached to work with Dr. Augustin Stein to translate the Haggadah and Pentateuch into Czech. He was also appointed assistant to Dr. Tobias Jacobovitz, the head librarian at the Library of the Jewish Religious Community.
Funded by the community, Dr. Randa was sent to Charles University, where he attained his first doctorate in Hebrew Linguistics in 1939, weeks before the university was shut down by the Nazi occupiers.
In 1942, he was transported to Theresienstadt, where he became a member of the Talmudkommando, a select group of rabbis and Hebraists tasked with sorting through religious texts for use by the Nazis in their proposed Museum of the Forgotten Race. The group was disbanded in 1944, after which Dr. Randa was transported to Auschwitz, Schwarzheide and Sachsenhausen. He was liberated in 1945.
Upon returning to Prague, Dr. Randa became secretary to the Chief Rabbi, Gustav Sicher, in order to fund his further education at Charles University. He attained a second doctorate in law but, soon after setting up his legal practise, was forced to flee with his wife and two children as the iron curtain closed on Czechoslovakia.
Arriving in Australia in 1949, Dr. Randa joined the staff of the fledgling Mt. Scopus Memorial College, where he remained until his retirement forty one years later. Dr. Randa passed away in December 1996.
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