Burglar ransacks Kansas City Chabad, leaves Torah untouched

The intruder left the Torah, a silver pointer used during Torah readings, and all the Hebrew Bibles and prayer books.

The aftermath of criminals ransacking a Chabad in Kansas City, Missouri, over Hanukkah. (photo credit: Rabbi Yitzchak Itkin)
The aftermath of criminals ransacking a Chabad in Kansas City, Missouri, over Hanukkah.
(photo credit: Rabbi Yitzchak Itkin)

The Chabad of the Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, was ransacked last Tuesday night by an unknown suspect. The criminal stole nearly everything he could get his hands on, cut off the electricity and even cut some copper plumbing, flooding the building with water.

However, on Wednesday morning, when Chabad Rabbi Yitzchak Itkin discovered the damage, he also found what he considers a Hanukkah miracle: The intruder left the Torah, a silver pointer used during Torah readings, and all the Hebrew Bibles and prayer books.

“They literally took everything else, from the cholent pot to electronics – anything they could get their hands on,” Itkin said. “This was like the destruction of the Temple and the flask of oil that was left.”

Police responded to a caller who had heard glass breaking and saw a black SUV drive away. The officers who arrived on the scene were unable to stop the vehicle, leaving the culprit still at large.

Then, sometime around 1:30 a.m., Itkin said, the culprit must have returned and again entered the building. The rabbi said police are investigating whether the incident was a hate crime. The current belief is that it was a random burglary.

 The Torah scroll was left untouched when a Kansas City Chabad was ransacked by criminals over Hanukkah. (credit: Rabbi Yitzchak Itkin) The Torah scroll was left untouched when a Kansas City Chabad was ransacked by criminals over Hanukkah. (credit: Rabbi Yitzchak Itkin)

Itkin said the center will now look for a new home. In the meantime, it embarked on a fundraising campaign, bringing in more than $80,000 in a few days to help fund a temporary location.

The Chabad of the Plaza is one of three Chabad centers in the Kansas-Missouri Greater Metropolitan area. It serves as a synagogue and house of learning, welcoming mostly young adults who moved from the suburbs where a larger Jewish community resides. It also serves as a hub for traveling Jewish business people who come for meetings in the city.

The Chabad was established downtown 13 years ago. Its largest events draw around 200 people.

“You could walk in and see darkness,” Itkin said. “But I see this as an opportunity for more light – to take our Torah and our Chumashim [Hebrew Bibles] and to find a better place.

“We will keep on lighting more candles and bringing more light in a state of darkness.”