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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Monday, September 25, 2017

Just over a month after $400,000 worth of religious texts were stolen, the Seforim were returned on Friday, May 12, to a Brooklyn synagogue.

The antique sacred texts were taken on April 2 from the Borough Park synagogue. On Friday, Assemblyman Dov Hikind and Rabbi Meir Rokeach were there for the return of the 96 Seforim to their home at the Congregation Maase Rokeach on 12th Avenue and 54th Street.

Regarding the theft, Hikind said, "I can't describe to you the pain that it caused the Rabbi Rokeach. These books are so precious, and so holy, and so significant. They're irreplaceable.”

Important players in the book’s recovery was the community safety patrol Borough Park Shmira.

According to Hikind’s office, surveillance video was reviewed by members of the patrol, which assisted in identifying one of the thieves. They also help arrange the return of the books. 

The Daily News reports, “Word of the theft went out to the Jewish community worldwide and those who deal in rare religious texts, and soon calls were coming in to the synagogue about the books, as well as an extortion attempt from the very people who stole them.”

Hikind said, "At one point we received a phone call from somebody who said he was somewhere in the world ... saying he had information about these and all he needed was $70,000 to convince those that took the books to get them back. It turns out the person who made that phone call was the person who actually was responsible for taking those books."

For several generations, the sacred texts have been passed down from fathers to sons. It took 40 days to get all the books back to New York, because they were scattered across the globe with book dealers in Russia, Canada and Los Angeles. All the texts were finally retrieved and returned in the same condition they were in when they left. 

According to The Daily News, “Cops arrested Aron Gross, 34, in connection with the theft. The books were presented to the sons of Rabbi Rokeach and were to be placed back in the library. There is now a security system in place to prevent another theft.”

"This is really a very joyous occasion, and a great way to go into the Sabbath," Hikind said. "There's a lesson in this for everyone. Everyone who can afford to should put up surveillance cameras — and everyone should be eager to share video footage with the police and local security patrols when necessary."

By Fern Sidman