A Torah scroll and several other ritual items were stolen this week from an Arizona synagogue. Congregants arrived Monday morning to discover the door broken open and a gaping spot within the ark where the holy scroll had stood in the Young Israel Synagogue of Phoenix.
The synagogue members were preparing for a circumcision ceremony for a new baby boy when they became aware of the tragedy. The women’s entrance to the synagogue was smashed as well.
The theft at 7th Street and Maryland was described as “emotionally devastating,” by spiritual leader Rabbi Reuven Mann, who told local reporters, “The Torah became a part of our lives and our soul.” He added that a number of his synagogue’s members began to cry.
The stolen Torah was valued at approximately $35,000, but is much more precious than that, Mann explained. “They are treated with tremendous reverence, passed on from generation to generation.” A special scribe can take as long as an entire year to produce a Torah scroll, which is comprised of the five books of Moses.
“It’s the word of G-d,” noted Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Tommy Thompson.
Although police have launched an investigation, they as yet have no leads in the incident, the third to strike the synagogue since February. The congregation plans to install a new security system and is seeking a better way to secure their Torah scrolls.