Sacred Torah scrolls stolen from Oahu synagogue

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Two sacred handwritten Torah scrolls were stolen from a Jewish synagogue over the weekend and a $5,000 reward is being offered for their safe return.

The Torah scrolls -- which were housed at the sanctuary at Chabad of Hawaii at the Ala Moana Hotel.-- are valued at about $50,000 each.

One of them, made in the 1850s in Lithuania, survived the war and the Holocaust.

"It's a terrible loss, it's a sense of shock. The Torah has become a part of the community and it's like losing two members," said synagogue member Bennett Hymer.

The synagogue and Jewish educational center said it has contacted police. They're concerned the items will be smuggled off island for sale on the black market.

But Rabbi Itchel Krasnjansky said he theft is puzzling since other valuables -- including an accompanying sterling silver crown -- were left alone.

"There was nothing that was strewn around. Clearly, who ever stole it knew what they were looking for, took it and left," he said.

A Torah scroll is a handwritten copy of the Torah, the holiest book in the Jewish religion.

Each of the Torah scrolls that were stolen weigh about 40 pounds and are about 3 feet in height and 1 foot wide.

The synagogue has contacted airport security and state sheriffs to be on the lookout for anyone attempting to smuggle the scrolls out of Hawaii.

It's the second hurtful incident targeting the Ala Moana synagogue in recent months. Last fall, vandals spray painted anti-Semitic remarks on a nearby sidewalk.

"The word 'Jews' were there and it was clearly targeting us and it was scrolled on the sidewalk right outside our synagogue." said Pearl Krasnjansky.

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