Torah stolen from Phoenix synagogue

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PHOENIX -- A Torah and several other religious items were stolen from a Phoenix synagogue and police are asking for the public's help to find the thieves.

Police said the theft took place at Young Israel Synagogue of Phoenix located near Seventh Street and Maryland Avenue. A Torah, which is a holy scripture in Judaism, was the most significant item stolen.

Members of the temple realized a Torah had been stolen when they arrived at the synagogue Monday morning and found a vacant space within the ark where the holy scriptures are kept. The temple door had been broken open.

“It’s emotionally devastating to the community," Rabbi Reuven Mann said. "The Torah became a part of our lives and our soul.”

In the Jewish religion, the Torah is a scroll that contains the five books of Moses. It is handwritten on special parchment paper and can take more than a year to write in its entirety.

Mann said the stolen Torah is valued at around $35,000 but carries a much higher spiritual value.

“They are treated with tremendous reverence, passed on from generation to generation,” he said.

Police said they have no leads and do not yet have a motive in this crime.