The Shmooze

Sefer Torah Thefts Baffle Israel's Haredi Community

By Nathan Jeffay

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There is intrigue across Israel’s Haredi community, after the sector’s media has reported on what seems to be a case of serial sefer Torah theft.

Several communities in and around the central-Israel city of Lod have had scrolls stolen in recent weeks. The criminals were seemingly not opportunists, but rather individuals or gangs who had carefully planned their crimes. They showed detailed knowledge of the synagogues they stole from and how the scrolls are stored and secured. In many cases, there were no signs of break-ins and a key was seemingly used to gain entry.

Even stranger, in some cases the parchments were cut away from the rollers on which they are mounted and the rollers were left behind.

The crimes raise many questions. Why sefer Torah scrolls? Why in these particular synagogues in one of the least affluent parts of Israel? What are the thieves planning to do with them — is there really a serious black market in such items? Why damage the scrolls to take them?

Calling all amateur detectives.


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