Jerusalem - Torah Scroll Scheme Reveals Over Three Dozen Stolen Torahs
Jerusalem - Over 40 Sifrei Torah of unknown provenance have been discovered at a sofer’s office in Jerusalem, at least seven of which have been identified as stolen. Police are now on the hunt to locate the owners of the remaining, unidentified Sifrei Torah, YNet News reports (http://bit.ly/1Ih57Ff).
The sofer, named as Rachamim Chavi, was indicted last week by the Nazareth Magistrate Court, and was found guilty of acquiring and selling the stolen sefrei Torah for a profit. Following an investigation by the Northern District Police into reports of burglaries at area synagogues, indictments were also issued against two brothers from Tiberias for stealing the scrolls and selling them to Chavi. Using technological means, the police identified the thieving brothers as Chain Kalfon, 30, and Yisrael Kalfon, 21, from Tiberias.
The duo was caught and arrested “red-handed” in October when they broke into a Chabad shul in Haifa, but they had been unable to steal the Sefer Torah before their arrest. The brothers, did, however, steal Sifrei Torah from a synagogue in Tiberias in September. In that case, they stole the Torah from the Aron Kodesh, tore off the parchment, and sold it to the Jerusalem sofer for 12 thousand shekels. In another case, the Kalfon brothers again broke into another synagogue, stole a Sefer Torah, and sold it to the sofer for 16,000 shekels. When they were interrogated, the brothers led investigators to the sofer.
According to the unsealed indictment, the stolen Torahs were acquired by Chavi in Jerusalem on different dates. He paid between 8,000 and 16,000 shekels for them and then re-sold the Torahs to various shuls. On one occasion, Chavi sold a stolen Torah for 90,000 shekels to one shul, but once that shul learned it had been stolen, the deal fell through.
In recent days, prosecutors filed indictments against the brothers for the burglary of the shuls, conspiracy to commit a crime, and aggravated theft. The sofer was charged with receiving stolen property and conspiracy to commit a crime. All the defendants deny the allegations against them. A lawyer for the sofer says his client did not know the Torahs were stolen.
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