On June 18, members of Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Forest Hills discovered that several items of religious and historic significance had been taken from their building on 113th Street.
Gene Singer of Manhattan decided to do something about it, and on Tuesday donated ornate metal breastplates — used to adorn Torah prayer scrolls when they are not in use — to replace the ones taken in the burglary.
“I wanted to help,” Singer said Tuesday night prior to a brief ceremony at the synagogue.
Two breastplates and a chalice were among the items taken in the burglary, and congregation officials said the thief probably just saw them for their monetary value as precious metal.
Rabbi Sol Froimowitz, who has led the congregation for more than 11 years, said they still have not heard from police on the items’ possible recovery.
Two of the new breastplates bear the symbols of the 12 tribes of Israel and a menorah. They previously had been given by Singer to the Young Israel and the Mizrachi synagogues on Manhattan’s lower East Side.
“Mr. Singer made these himself, one of them in memory of his late wife Norma,” said David Sitzer, vice president of the Young Israel congregation, who was on hand for the donation.
“So this isn’t like someone who saw what happened on the news and decided he wanted to write a check to replace the items,” Sitzer said.
Singer said both congregations agreed to donate the items when he requested, and Sitzer said Singer will replace them with new creations in the future.
Froimowitz said as devastated as they were about the burglary, there is a feeling of joy and a lesson to be learned from Singer’s generosity.
“The original temple in Jerusalem was destroyed because of unwarranted hatred between Jews,” he said. “Mr. Singer doesn’t know us. He’s not a member of our congregation. He saw something happen to his fellow Jews and wanted to help. This is an act of unwarranted love.”