Torah valued at $30,000 returned after Brooklyn rabbi's stolen car is found
The Brooklyn rabbi’s stolen car — with the $30,000 Torah still inside — has been found, according to officials.
Rabbi Binyamin Tamaiev said he was leading a service inside the Congregation Agudath Sholom of Flatbush on 18th Ave. Friday when a crook swiped his gray 2007 Toyota Corolla with the Torah and several pairs of prayer phylacteries.
The car with the scroll still safe inside was found Monday afternoon, officials said.
“The speedy recovery of this sacred scroll is a testimony to our ability to work together,” Assemblyman Dov Hikind said in a statement. “Every last one of us will sleep easier tonight.”
It’s unclear if the thief knew about the religious reliquery when he snatched the wheels, but it made no matter to the suffering congregation.
“I want to believe that whoever took the Torah didn’t mean to,” Tamaiev said. “It's an item so holy.”
Intentional or not, the theft left synagogue officials reeling.
“This is the most holy document that we have in our religion,” said the synagogue’s outraged president, Walter Rosenblatt.
“We hold it in tremendous esteem,” he added of the Torah, which comprises the Old Testament and the faithful believe was handed down from Moses himself.
Tamaiev is a scribe who repairs Torahs and tefillin, sacred prayer garb containing words from the Torah.
Tamaiev had just repaired the Torah for another congregation. Five pairs of tefillin, worth about $500 each, were also inside the stolen vehicle, he said.
“He was going to bring them into the synagogue and put them in a safe,” Rosenblatt said. “But he was running late and he was afraid he would be late for the services.”
Congregants believe the thief entered the synagogue during Friday night services, stole money from charity boxes, and stumbled upon Tamaiev’s keys, which had been left in the synagogue’s front room.
Driving is prohibited during the Sabbath, so Tamaiev didn’t discover his car missing until Saturday evening after noticing the keys were not where he’d left them.
"I felt as if somebody died,” Tamaiev said of the loss of the items. “I can’t forgive myself.”
Worshipers were shocked by the crime.
"Nothing is sacred anymore," said one devastated synagogue volunteer, who declined to give her name.
"People used it everyday to pray. When someone takes something very precious away you feel desecrated. It hurts."