Sale of rare Judaica sparks debate


 SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — A U.S. buyer purchased a pair of rare silver Torah crowns amid a dispute in Australia over the sale of valuable Judaica.

The rimonim, which date back to 1719 and which Sotheby’s described in its catalog as “exceptionally rare,” were sold for $338,500 by the auction house in New York on Dec. 17. The items were stumbled upon in a store room of the Great Synagogue in Sydney, which touts itself as the “mother congregation of Australian Jewry.”

Norman Seligman, the CEO of the Sydney Jewish Museum, told the Australian Jewish News that it was “a pity that something that has some significance to the Australian Jewish community is sold and leaves the country.” Seligman said he had hoped an Australian philanthropist would buy the rare Judaica and perhaps add it to the historical collection at the museum.

According to the Australian Jewish News report, there was speculation that the Great Synagogue, built in 1842, had not informed its members of the proposed sale. A synagogue spokesman said the synagogue planned to use the money to help preserve its existing collection of Torah scrolls and other Judaica.

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