Bintel Blog

Stolen Jerusalem Stone Returned, Accidental Thief Forgiven

By Nathan Jeffay

  • Print
  • Share Share

Who says that there aren’t honest people around today?

In 1997, a 46lb fragment of a marble column disappeared from one of the excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) was conducting south of the Temple Mount. It has now been returned.

Several weeks ago, the IAA received an unexpected e-mail from a Christian clergyman in New York: “I am requesting forgiveness for a member of my congregation”, he wrote. “The fellow confessed to me that twelve years ago he took a stone from Jerusalem and his conscience has bothered him ever since. I wish to return the stone to Israel and hope that you will forgive the man for his transgression.”

The stone fragment arrived in Jerusalem in a wooden crate that was specially constructed for the flight back to Israel, with a letter from the guilty party, which read:

I came to Israel on an organized trip. As a student of archaeology, I was very excited when we visited an excavation south of the Temple Mount. I asked how I can purchase a stone from the excavation because I wanted a souvenir with which to pray for Jerusalem and was told it was not possible. On the last day of the trip our Israeli tour guide approached me and took the stone fragment from inside his coat. ‘Take it’, he said. ‘It’s a present from me’. I asked him how he obtained the stone and he replied, ‘It’s okay; don’t worry’. I was very happy and took the stone with me on my flight back to New York. Only later did I realize that he probably took the stone from the excavation without permission. For the past twelve years since then, rather than remind me of the prayer for Jerusalem, I am reminded of the mistake I made when I removed the stone from its proper place in Israel. I am asking for your forgiveness.

Though taking archeological artifacts can lead to imprisonment, the IAA said that because of the “sincerity” of the letter, it will forgive the man, as requested.

IAA officials said that the stone was a column fragment that was discovered during the excavation of one of the Umayyad buildings located south of the Temple Mount. This is the second drama related to stolen archeological artifacts in a month. In early May, the Bintel Blog reported on an Indiana Jones-style operation which led to the return of a stolen 2000-year-old Hebrew document.

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires 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. 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 Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

john Sat. Jun 6, 2009

All Human beings ,men women and children plus their cattle , Please dear brothers in humanity , read the statement of the highest reference and authority for the Jews in America , and what he actually says . It is strange for me and for the whole humanity , that the Rabbi Manis Friedman takes the quotation from the Holy Bible which says : The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle). This is the Jewish mentality since the time of Moses till the present time . These are not humans . The problem is that all the Jewish illegal population in the occupied Palestine are behind this fallacy . The Jews are keeping a great hate in their heart to humanity . It is taught to their children in their schools and they will never stop . This is the highest grades of terrorism . America is fighting terrorism , but terrorism is inside . It is published in Moment Magazine . These types of Jews are worse than Bin Laden and Al Qaeda . These are the ugliest terrorist people on earth . This is why Jews made a very bad war against Gaza and destroyed every thing and killed thousands . I believe that the Jews are hiding very bad things towards others . Five million Palestinians are suffering in the Diaspora because of such inhuman Jews . Most of the Jewish population now are not Semites , they are Indo-Aryans .

The Jews killed , massacred tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians and children , they destroyed more than on thousand houses of worship , and now they are digging under the holiest house to let it collapse . But if they do nthey will repent for their whole life . They dismantled hundreds of thousands of old olive trees , because they hate the olive branch the symbol of peace .

Find us on Facebook!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love.
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.