(JTA) — Unidentified individuals broke into a synagogue in the Caucasus republic of Georgia, stole its Torah scroll and destroyed it.
The incident happened sometime after the synagogue of Gori, a city located 65 miles northwest of the capital Tbilisi, was temporarily closed on Nov. 26, police said. The Jewish community discovered the damage on Friday, when they reopened the synagogue.
Parts of the Torah scroll were discovered behind the synagogue building, the news website Gorskie reported. Police are investigating the incident as a break-in, not a hate crime, the news website 2030 reported.
In 1979 the Jewish population of Georgia was more than 28,000. But the country’s Jewish population dwindled to 4,000 as the republic coped with war and instability in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse.
The Georgian government is supportive of Jewish life in Georgia. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili last year attended a ceremony celebrating the 120th anniversary of the synagogue in Oni, in western Georgia. Garibashvili, whose government provided some of the funding for renovations at the Oni and Tbilisi synagogues, called Georgia “the second homeland of the Jewish people.”