Whoever stole a Toyota Corolla with a $30,000 Torah inside either didn’t realize the document’s worth, didn’t know it was there, or perhaps ditched the car intact because of its holy cargo. Whatever the thief’s line of reasoning, Rabbi Binyamin Tamaiev, who left the Torah in the back of a rental car, can finally exhale now that the car and scroll have been found. Tamaiev had been restoring the scroll for a congregation in Queens, and brought it with him to put in the safe at his own synagogue in Brooklyn, CBS New York reports. But he ran late and was afraid he would miss Friday services, so instead of putting the document in the safe, he hurried into the service and left his keys in the synagogue’s front room.
“Congregants believe the thief entered the synagogue during Friday night services, stole money from charity boxes, and stumbled upon Tamaiev’s keys,” the New York Daily News reports. Since driving is prohibited during the Sabbath, Tamaiev only realized on Saturday night that his keys were gone. “He feels like somebody died; like he wants to die,” his daughter told CBS. But on Monday, a tip led police to the empty dead end of Avenue L, less than a mile away from Tamaiev’s synagogue, where the undamaged Corolla sat with the undamaged Torah inside. No word yet on whether the tipster gets to claim the $3,000 reward Assemblyman Dov Hikind offered for the document’s return.