NEW YORK (Oct. 3)
The World Jewish Congress has sounded an international alert to antiques dealers, pawnbrokers and the general public to be on the lookout for priceless items stolen from the Jewish Museum in Johannesburg last weekend.
They include irreplaceable religious artifacts rescued from Nazi Germany during World War II, the WJC reported here Thursday.
The WJC was informed of the theft by Seymour Kopelowitz, national director of the South African Board of Jewish Deputies, which operates the museum.
He said the thieves broke in and smashed glass display cases. Employees coming to work discovered the theft.
The WJC called on dealers and the public to contact the police if they are offered anything which might have come from the museum.
The items include silver crowns and breast-plates used to adorn the Torah scrolls, antique silver spice boxes, pointers and candelabras used on Chanukah, and antique handwritten marriage contracts, one of them signed in Italy in 1750.
“The collection represents all facets of our Jewish heritage and, in purely educational terms, can never be compensated for,” Kopelowitz said.
The WJC, describing the loss as tragic, observed that the rare collection had been built up over many years and was priceless because of the many unique items it contained.