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Rabbi who claimed to rescue Holocaust Torahs arrested on fraud charges

JTA

August 24, 2011 | 4:35 pm

Torah. Photo by Willy Horsch<br />

Torah. Photo by Willy Horsch

A rabbi who claimed that he rescued Torah scrolls lost during the Holocaust was arrested on fraud charges.

Rabbi Menachem Youlus, founder of Save a Torah, was arrested on Wednesday, charged with one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. Federal prosecutors accused Youlus of embezzling money from his charity for personal use and fabricating stories of rescuing lost Torahs.

“Menachem Youlus called himself the ‘Jewish Indiana Jones,’ but his alleged exploits were no more real than those of the movie character he claimed to resemble,” said Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a statement.

The U.S. Attorney’s office stated that Torah scrolls that Younus claimed to have rescued had simply been purchased from local dealers and lacked any connection to the Holocaust. The office further stated that during many of the years Youlus claimed to be personally rescuing Torahs overseas, he had not even traveled internationally.

The statement said that Save a Torah had raised $1.2 million in contributions from 2004 to 2010.

Youlus gained public notoriety after a January 2010 Washington Post article raised doubts about the veracity of his claims.

“Menachem Youlus’ indictment is welcome news to all who are concerned with the integrity of Holocaust memory,” said Menachem Rosensaft, vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, in a statement.

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