Chabad rabbis burst into tears on the Sabbath after discovering that thieves stole six Torah scrolls from their 160-year-old Tzemach Tzedek synagogue in the Old City area of Tzfat. A new Torah scroll is worth approximately $60,000.
The thieves broke into the building on Friday night, and worshipers discovered the theft when they arrived early in the morning on the Sabbath to learn Torah before prayers, according to the Chabad online website in Israel COL.org.
“When we saw the ark [where the Torah scrolls are kept] was broken into, all of us burst into tears,” said Chabad Rabbi Gavriel Marzel. “We were in total shock and could not believe that such a thing could happen.”
The thieves also broke into closets where worshippers kept tefillin and placed them in a pile, but for an unknown reason did not take them away.
Tzfat Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu told Rabbi Marzel that there has been a wave of thefts of Torah scrolls in Tzfat recently but that all of them have been recovered.
Paul Caplan, a new immigrant from Phialdlephia, told Arutz Sheva that he saw the doors of the ark had been ripped open when he arrived at the synagogue on the Sabbath.
“The Lubavitcher Rebbe had a brother who lived in Tzfat, and his Yahrzheit (anniversary of his death} was on this past Sabbath,” Caplan said. One of the stolen scrolls was in memory of Rabbi Leib Kaplan, who was a former Chabad emissary in Tzfat and whose Yahrzheit is this week.
The Chabad site noted that police sent a non-Jewish officer to record the initial complaint.