Torah Scrolls Returned to Synagogue After Simchat Torah Robbery

A Brooklyn synagogue had to celebrate Simchat Torah without four of its holy scrolls, following a theft on Tuesday morning. But in a thankful reversal of fortune, the Torahs were returned to the Midwood congregation shortly after midnight on Friday, leaving some to speculate that the robber saw the error of his ways.

“Thanks to the coordinated community efforts working in tandem with the NYPD and Flatbush Shomrim, it seems that the enormous pressure has thank God forced the late night return of the Torahs,” Josh Mehlman of the Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition, told Israeli news station Arutz Sheva, which reported the story.

Valued at up to $250,000, the Torah scrolls were recovered Friday morning, as a member of the Orthodox congregation was leaving the building after a religious study session. He found the stolen items located outside the synagogue’s entrance, intact and wrapped in black garbage bags.

The robbery on Simchat Torah — a holiday when Jews mark the end of a year’s cycle of Torah readings, often dancing with the scrolls in hand — had led the New York Police Department and a local community patrol to open an investigation which had not broken ground by the time the Torahs were recovered. The man was caught on video, and identified as being white and in his 20s.

Stealing Torah scrolls can be a lucrative business, as the items are highly valuable — they are transcribed by hand on special animal skin and often covered with gold or silver. Several high profile robberies have taken place in Brooklyn and Queens neighborhoods home to large Orthodox Jewish communities, like Boro Park and Far Rockaway.

New York City Councilman David Greenfield had put out an award for information leading to the arrest of the criminal, and told the Brooklyn Daily that he found the theft unspeakable.

“I struggle to find words to describe the chutzpah of stealing Torah scrolls on the day we celebrate the Torah,” he said. “This type of behavior cannot and will not be tolerated in our community.”

Contact Daniel J. Solomon at solomon@forward.com or on Twitter @DanielJSolomon

Author

Daniel J. Solomon

Daniel J. Solomon is the Assistant to the Editor/News Writer at the Forward. Originally from Queens, he attended Harvard as an undergraduate, where he wrote his senior thesis on French-Jewish intellectual history. He is excited to have returned to New York after his time in Massachusetts. Daniel’s passions include folk music, cycling, and pointed argument.

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Torah Scrolls Returned to Synagogue After Simchat Torah Robbery

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close