Rabbi Benyamin Tamaiev was quite upset about the missing torah:
“I feel very bad. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep,” Tamaiev said.
Tamaiev leads a congregation which rents space in a synagogue on the 3700 block of 18th Avenue, right where Kensington and Flatbush meet. On Friday afternoon he arrived in the neighborhood in his rented 2007 Toyota Corolla, parked it on the dead-end side of Avenue I, and went to his congregation to celebrate the Sabbath. Tamaiev was careful to hide the key near the vault where the main ark is. Tamaiev was particularly careful because the valuable torah scroll was locked inside the car.
According to Tamaiev’s daughter Judy the scribe was planning on returning the scroll to its owners in Queens on Sunday.
“It was already fixed. He was going to deliver it on Sunday,” Judy Tamaiev said.
Unfortunately the car disappeared sometime on Saturday, and was reported stolen on Saturday night at around 6pm.
Apparently the thief also took money from the synagogue’s charity boxes. It is likely that the thief was not aware that there was a $30,000 torah scroll in the trunk of the car, in addition to five sets of tefillin, also worth hundreds of dollars.
“He feels like somebody died; like he wants to die,” Judy Tamaiev said. “Terrible.”
A $3,000 reward was offered for the safe return of the torah scroll, and on Monday the police received a tip that led them to the location of the stolen car, which was less than one mile from the car’s original location. The car, scroll and tefillin were all recovered undamaged by 3pm on Monday.
New York State Assemblyman Dov Hilkind, who had pleaded for the safe return of the scroll expressed relief that the torah was recovered unharmed.
“The safety and sanctity of a Torah scroll means a great deal to our community,” Hikind said in a news release. “The speedy recovery of this sacred scroll is a testimony to our ability to work together and the dedication of our extraordinary Police Commander Mike Dedo. Every last one of us will sleep easier tonight.”