Two Torah scrolls stolen from a Reform rabbinic couple have been found in a Hertfordshire field.
The Hampstead Garden Suburb home of rabbis Jackie and Larry Tabick was burgled on March 22, their lodger coming face to face with a masked intruder, who fled with items including a metal safe containing the scrolls. The couple feared the robber would dispose of the sifrei Torah because attempting to sell them would arouse suspicion.
But on Thursday night, Rabbi Larry Tabick tweeted an image of himself with the recovered sifrei Torah, which belong to his Shir Hayim congregation in Hampstead, with the message: “Our scrolls are back! Blessed is the One who is good and does good!”
The day before, an appeal for information had been issued by the Metropolitan Police, describing the scrolls as having “incalculable spiritual value”. It quoted the rabbis describing how Shir Hayim was “in mourning” and that “a community that has lost its Torah scrolls has lost its heart".
"Somebody found them in a field in Hertfordshire,” Rabbi Tabick told the JC."Hertfordshire police collected them and brought them down to our local police station. We went around there and identified them, signed the statement that we’d retrieved them and brought them home.
“One of them seems to be in perfect condition. The other one, the last section of Devarim [the final book in the scroll] is a bit crumpled but I don’t know if there’s much damage. Obviously we’re going to take it to a scribe and have it looked at.
“They had taken away the breastplate – because it’s silver – and they had taken off the [scroll] mantles. But when they saw what was inside, they clearly decided it wasn’t worth their while so they just left them. They were still in the cabinet."
Rabbi Tabick added that the intention was “absolutely” to use one or both the scrolls on Shabbat and Pesach.
“I’m going to have them both in shul this Shabbat just so people can see that they’re back. I've sent an e-mail around to our members and I’ve been getting a lot of very delighted responses.
“People have history with these scrolls, especially a community like ours that has so few. One family donated one of the scrolls that has been recovered. The other was acquired by the community through donations from a variety of people."