Israeli rabbi steals torahs from his own synagogue

Sephardi torah scrolls of the type used in Moshav Brosh (Photo Smuconlaw).

Sephardi torah scrolls of the type used in Moshav Brosh (Photo Smuconlaw).

An Israeli rabbi was convicted of stealing torah scrolls from his own congregation and replacing scrolls with rolls of paper.

Rabbi Yehuda Rosilio, of the Sephardi synagogue in the small Negev town of Moshav Brosh near Be’er Sheva, was found guilty of aggravated theft; fraud; fraud under aggravated circumstances; breach of trust and an affront to religion

The rabbi defrauded members of his congregation who asked for Torah scrolls to be written. Instead of writing a scroll in honour of a deceased loved one of a family in the congregation, Rabbi Rosilio dressed up an old scroll in a new case and presented it to the family.

He was also found guilty of presenting a borrowed scroll as one he had written, and once paid for he returned the torah to its dealer.

The Be’er Sheva Magistrate’s court heard on Tuesday that the rabbi concealed the fraud by rotating the different scrolls kept in the ark of the synagogue between different cases, and sometimes replacing scrolls with rolls of paper and cardboard.

The deceptive scheme was discovered on Simchat Torah when all the scrolls were removed from the ark as it is customary to do and a young member of the congregation asked his father to see the text of the torah scroll.

Rabbi Rosilio has been placed under house arrest and he is prohibited from engaging in the rabbinate or writing Torah scrolls.

    Last updated: 1:53pm, October 17 2012