Crosses, pieces of newspaper and empty plastic boxes-these are only some of the things that the Chabad mezuzah patrol has found in mezuzah cases. Out of the 15,000 mezuzahs it checked ahead of Rosh Hashanah, only 38% of them were kosher.Almost two thirds of the mezuzahs adorning Israeli doors are blemished, says the mezuzah patrol. In hundreds of households, the mezuzahs were found to be empty after the parchment inside had been stolen.
“It’s very easy to steal a mezuzah,” explains Rabbi Moni Andar. “All you need is a screwdriver, and you can make a lot of money. The price of a mezuzah can reach as much as NIS 600.”
The market of mezuzahs, Sifrei Torah and tefillin turns over millions of shekels a month. The price of the average mezuzah is NIS 150, and the price of expensive mezuzahs can go as high as NIS 600. The price of tefillin is thousands of shekels and Sifrei Torah are sold for hundreds of thousands of shekels, but they are a lot harder to steal. Mezuzah robbers, in contrast, enjoy good opening conditions: at almost every door, hundreds of shekels can be had, and all you need is to open the mezuzah and remove the parchment, while the residents don’t even know about the theft.
But there is also a positive side: it turns out that at least in the forgery department, there has been a drop. The number of phony mezuzahs found was relatively low.
“The public is no longer tempted to buy mezuzahs that are photocopied or printed on paper; this phenomenon has almost disappeared,” explains Rabbi Yarahmiel Gorelick of Cholon.