Torah scroll stolen from republic of Georgia synagogue found destroyed


(JTA) — A Torah scroll taken from a synagogue in the Caucasus republic of Georgia was destroyed.

Police said unknown individuals broke into the synagogue in Gori, a city located 65 miles northwest of the capital Tbilisi, while it was temporarily closed on Nov. 26. The Jewish community discovered the damage on Friday, when they reopened the synagogue.

Parts of the Torah scroll were discovered behind the synagogue building, the news website Gorskie reported. Police are investigating the incident as a break-in, not a hate crime, the news website 2030 reported.

Some 4,000 Jews live in Georgia, down from more than 28,000 in 1979 as the republic coped with war and instability in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse.

The Georgian government is supportive of Jewish life in Georgia. Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili last year attended a ceremony celebrating the 120th anniversary of the synagogue in Oni,  in western Georgia.

Garibashvili, whose government provided some of the funding for renovations at the Oni and Tbilisi synagogues, called Georgia “the second homeland of the Jewish people.”

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