Police in Israel have reportedly arrested a rabbi suspected of stealing Torah scrolls from the synagogue of his community near Be’er Sheva.
Kikar HaShabat, a hebrew-language news site on religious affairs, reported that police requested on Oct. 10 that the Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s Court remand the suspect for a further 24 hours. He had been arrested the previous day, the news site reported.
According to a report on the Hebrew edition of the news site Ynet, the rabbi –- who was not mentioned by name -– had confessed to taking seven Torah scrolls from the synagogue of Brosh, a moshav north east of the city in Israel’s south.
The alleged theft was discovered on Simchat Torah, on Oct. 8. In many Orthodox and Conservative congregations, this is the only time of year when Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark. Worshipers then dance with the scrolls as part of the Hakafot ceremony, and some read the scrolls at night.
In Brosh, the worshipers opened the ark at the request of a boy who wanted to see the actual scroll, Ynet reported. Upon opening the ark, the worshipers found blank paper sheets which may have been placed inside for weight.
Mordechai Deri, a regular frequenter of the synagogue, told the Israeli daily Ma’ariv that he then inspected all other seven Torah scrolls and found they had been replaced, too.
The report said the rabbi declined to answer Ma’ariv’s questions.