An investigation is being undertaken after a large Torah scroll was stolen, along with other religious items, from a synagogue at the Lincoln Park Jewish Centre in the city of Yonkers in New York on 25th September. The incident occurred only days before Yom Kippur.
Surveillance footage of the incident, captured from the interior and exterior of the building, was released on 5th October in an effort to find the thief. The CCTV showed the perpetrator, with a beard and Harvard t-shirt, entering the synagogue and then leaving in a change of clothes, carrying several large objects, including a laptop and guitar.
The Torah had been donated to the synagogue by a veteran of WWII and has been housed in the synagogue for many years, according to police. The scroll was kept securely behind a curtained-off sanctified cabinet in a section of the building that faces Jerusalem, as per Jewish custom.
Earlier this year, eighteen Jewish community centres around the US were deliberately targeted with a series of threatening e-mails that mentioned the use of weapons, including bombs. New York’s Albany Jewish Community Centre was among the recipients. The synagogue was closed off by authorities who searched the entire building. Authorities found no evidence that the e-mailed threats were intended to be carried out.
The Yonkers Police Department is currently appealing to the public for information or help identifying the suspect, who is believed to be local, and locating the stolen Torah.