As we celebrate Purim, the festival marking the salvation of Persia’s Jews from an evil tyrant, news has trickled out in the Jewish Journal of LA of a theft of Torah scrolls from a synagogue – all the more shocking since the state’s extensive security apparatus did not manage to prevent it.
Iranian Jewish community leaders in the U.S. have confirmed reports
that on Feb. 28 three antique Torah scrolls were stolen by unknown
thieves from the centuries-old Ezra Yagoub synagogue located inside Tehran’s Jewish ghetto.
While the Iranian regime has not launched any official investigation
into the incident and state-run media outlets have not reported on it, a
statement released by the Los Angeles-based Iranian American Jewish Federation (IAJF) indicated that their organization is unaware of any specific motive behind the theft of the Torahs.
“The Iranian American Jewish Federation is deeply concerned and
anxious about this incident and will be looking closely to learn the
results of the investigation by the authorities and the law
enforcement,” stated Susan Azizzadeh, president of the IAJF in the
Shahram Yaghoubzadeh, chairman of the Iranian American Jewish Federation of New York,
said his group “hopes that the governmental authorities in Tehran will
do the right thing and use their vast intelligence and power to ensure
the apprehension of the perpetrators and return of these sacred scrolls
to the synagogue”.
The modest synagogue which is a little more than 500 square feet was
established 125 years ago after an affluent Jewish merchant Ezra Yagoub
bequeath funds for the formation of the synagogue at his deathbed.
Likewise, the synagogue’s Torah scrolls are from the same time period
and encased in ornate wood and metallic cases with metallic ornaments on
top called “rimonim”. (…)
The theft of the Torahs from the Ezra Yagoub synagogue is just the latest incident against Iran’s Jewish community. In late December 2017
two synagogues located in the southwestern Iranian city of Shiraz were
vandalized by unknown assailants who left a total of five Torah scrolls
and numerous prayer books damaged or totally destroyed. Likewise,
Tsedaka charity boxes were also stolen from the synagogues. The incident
was never investigated by the regime’s authorities and no arrests were
made in connection with the crime.
Moreover, in November 2012, Toobah Nehdaran,
a 57-year-old married Jewish woman, was strangled, then repeatedly
stabbed to death, and her body was mutilated in a ritual manner by thugs
who had broken into her home located inside the Jewish ghetto within
the Iranian city of Isfahan. Nehdaran’s gruesome murder was never
investigated by Iranian authorities and suspects were never arrested in
connection with her murder.
Also in January 2011,
the Iranian student Basiji militia, of the Abu-Ali Sina/Avicenna
University in the western Iranian province of Hamadan rioted outside the
entrance of the Esther and Mordechai tomb and threatened to destroy it
if Israel destroyed the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. The Iranian
state-run media news reported at that time that Basiji militia had
removed the mausoleum’s entrance sign, covered the Star of David at the
mausoleum’s entrance with a welded metal cover and demanded the site be
placed under the supervision of the local Islamic religious authority.
In the end the tombs, were not damaged nor destroyed.