Police Recover Sefer Torah Stolen from Monticello Shul


monticello-sefer-torahMonticello, NY – Police arrested one suspect this  morning and recovered the $35,000 Torah stolen last month from the Landfield Avenue Shul in Monticello, village police and District Attorney Jim Farrell said.

The suspect’s name is being withheld pending arraignment. But Rabbi Ben-Zion Chanowitz said police called this afternoon to say the Torah was safe, ending weeks of anguish for the shul’s  members.

“We want to thank almighty God for his intervention and want to thank the Monticello police, the state police and the sheriff and the politicians,” he said. “It’s a miracle.”

The Torah was stolen sometime between the night of Dec. 30 and the morning of Dec. 31. It was Rabbi Chanowitz who arrived in the morning to find his office and the synagogue secretary’s office tossed, with $200 in charity funds missing.

Someone also made off with the shul’s  Torah, which was purchased a decade ago following a year-long fundraising campaign.

About 75 members and supporters gathered at the shul on Jan. 8 to call for the return of the Torah.

Many members felt “hopeless” over prospects for the Torah’s return, said Steve Grauer, president of the shul’s  board.

“I had already gotten resigned to the fact that we wouldn’t see this Torah again,” he said. “I thought if it was someone with a grudge they would have mutilated it and if it was someone looking for profit they would have sold it by now.”

Grauer received a call notifying him of the Torah’s return this afternoon. The shul spent part of the day phoning and emailing members with the news.

Rabbi Chanowitz was in Brooklyn when police called. He returned to Monticello at 4 p.m. to identify the Torah for village police. It appeared to be in “excellent” condition, he said.

“Every day was torture,” Chanowitz said.

Some of Landfield Avenue’s members planned to gather at the shul tonight for an impromptu celebration. A more formal ceremony will be organized for a later date, Chanowitz said.

“When someone gives you a present, you thank them,” he said.

{Times Herald Record/Matzav.com Newscenter}