Saturday, January 12, 2013

Israeli rabbi arrested on suspicion of stealing Torah scrolls from synagogue

Another backlog item, as reported by Ilana Curiel of Ynet News, October 11, 2012:

Police on Tuesday arrested a rabbi on suspicion of being involved in stealing Torah scrolls from a synagogue in a southern Israeli community.

Residents of Moshav Brosh in the Negev were surprised to discover during the holiday of Simchat Torah that parchments of seven Torah scrolls had been stolen from the local synagogue and replaced with paperboard.

The rabbi faced a court on Wednesday. In the meantime, police are trying to find out what happened to the parchments and where they disappeared to.

Local resident Mordechai Vaknin, who discovered the theft, told Ynet: "On the eve of the holiday we take out the Torah scrolls for the traditional encircling of the synagogue. One of the scrolls, which belongs to my family, was bought four months ago.

"My eldest son asked to see the scroll for the first time. When he opened it he said, 'Dad, this isn't a Torah scroll. There's no parchment, it's fake.' We took a look and realized that it was filled with paperboard, most probably so that we wouldn't feel a difference when carrying it."

Each Torah scroll is valued at NIS 50,000-120,000 (about $12,900-31,000).

The suspect said after being arrested, "I'm a bit confused. I intend to return the stuff. I would like to apologize to anyone who might have been hurt by this."

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