Rabbi Busted By Cops After Simchat Torah Scrolls Heist
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Seven torah scrolls were stolen from the synagogue of Moshav Brosh in southern Israel during Simchat Torah, and police believe the synagogue’s very own rabbi helped steal the scrolls, the Times of Israel reported.
According to police, as his congregation danced with all of the synagogue’s Torah scrolls, thieves working with the moshav’s rabbi took the Torah scrolls, replacing the real scrolls with cardboard rolled to the same shape.
Police arrested the rabbi on Tuesday after congregants discovered the thefts and confronted the rabbi.
Moshav Brosh has fewer than 500 residents, many of them Jews with Moroccan ancestry. It also has two Chabad centers, one of which is a day school.
Although it is unclear what affiliation the rabbi and the synagogue actually have, Sefardi Torah scrolls are kept inside individual heavy wooden cases, while Ashkenazi and hasidic Torah scrolls are covered by individual velvet cloth covers. The description of the method of the theft appears to indicate that it was Ashkenazi or hasidic Torahs that were stolen.
Update 10:30 am CDT – It seems the Times of Israel got the story wrong even though all it was doing was rewriting reports first written by other publications. That means my story based on the Times of Israel report is also wrong. (Hint to Times of Israel editor: Perhaps it would be wise for you to hire staff that can actually both read and write in a literate fashion. Of course, judging by your time at the Jerusalem Post, that may be beyond your pay grade.)
The JTA has an accurate reconstruction of what happened based on three Hebrew language news sources, Ma'ariv (NRG), Ynet, and Behadrei Haredim. Here's the key excerpt:
…According to a report on the Hebrew edition of the news site Ynet, the rabbi –- who was not mentioned by name -– had confessed to taking seven Torah scrolls from the synagogue of Brosh, a moshav north east of the city in Israel's south.
The alleged theft was discovered on Simchat Torah, on Oct. 8. In many Orthodox and Conservative congregations, this is the only time of year when Torah scrolls are taken out of the ark. Worshipers then dance with the scrolls as part of the Hakafot ceremony, and some read the scrolls at night.
In Brosh, the worshipers opened the ark at the request of a boy who wanted to see the actual scroll, Ynet reported. Upon opening the ark, the worshipers found blank paper sheets which may have been placed inside for weight.…
Compare that to the following illiteracy from the Times of Israel:
Torah scrolls stolen during celebrations — allegedly by congregation’s rabbi
Police arrest Negev rabbi for switching precious parchments for cardboard as worshipers celebrated during Simchat Torah
By Stuart Winer and Sam Ser • The Times of Israel
Seven torah scrolls were stolen from a synagogue and replaced with rolls of paper and cardboard — by the congregation’s rabbi, police say – during Simchat Torah celebrations on Monday night.
The incident happened in the small Negev town of Moshav Brosh. According to police, as revelers danced with Torah scrolls during the customary celebrations of the Simchat Torah festival, which began on Monday night, thieves made off with several of the precious parchments, estimated to be worth about NIS 500,000 ($129,523).
The robbers used rolls of paper with the same shape as Torah scrolls as decoys while they escaped.
Ofakim police arrested the synagogue’s rabbi on Tuesday, after worshipers confronted him about the deception.
To make the incompetence of the Times of Israel even worse, the photo used with above report is of Ashkenazi Torah scrolls, and the caption reads: "Israelis dance with Torah scrolls during the festival of Simchat Torah, September 2010." However, the stolen Torahs in this case probably were in Sefardi hard wooden cases, and the Times of Israel made no attempt to point that out. And that made it easy for readers to think that the theft happened at Chabad, not at the Moshav's main synagogue – which is Sefardi.