Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stolen Torahs Returned in Time for Holiday

By Conor Greene

Eight Torahs stolen last month from a local Jewish synagogue were returned to the congregation this week, in time for Rosh Hashanah.

The Torahs were stolen from the Jewish Center of Kew Gardens Hills last month, with shocked congregants making the discovery during Saturday services. It was immediately suspected to be an inside job, since the scriptures were kept under lock and key.

On September 3, the temple’s live-in custodian, Eric Giraldo, and a friend, Alan Lozano, were charged in the theft after the Torahs were found in a closet in Lozano’s home. The men have been charged with grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. They face up to 15 years in prison and are due back in court this Thursday.

During the NYPD’s annual High Holy Days meeting at One Police Plaza on Tuesday, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown joined NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly in returning the Torahs to the Jewish center in time for the holidays.

“Ten days ago – at the time of the Torahs’ recovery – I said that we would make every effort, consistent to with our need to have the Torahs available for the prosecution of the case, to have them returned to the Jewish Center of Kew Gardens Hills in time for Rosh Hashanah,” said Brown. “I am delighted that we have now been able to accomplish that goal.”

Joining Brown and Kelly at the meeting was the temple’s honorary president, Alan Gerard, the NYPD’s Chief Chaplin Rabbi Dr. Alvin Kass and the temple’s president, Meredith Deckler.

Photo: Queens District Attorney Richard Brown (foreground, left) joins Kew Gardens Hills Jewish Center Honorary President Alan Gerard, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, NYPD Chief Chaplain Rabbi Doctor Alvin Kass and temple President Meredith Deckler at One Police Plaza. In the background are members of the NYPD’s Shomrim Society (the fraternal organization of Jewish members of the NYPD) holding the recovered Torahs.

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