Aug 25, 2011

'Jewish Indiana Jones' more of a Walter Mitty

From: "Fredrick Toben" <>
Date: August 25, 2011 5:31:18 PM EDT
To: "'Michael'" <>
Subject: FW: 'Jewish Indiana Jones' more of a Walter Mitty

Santomauro, Here's something of interest - another liar ...

 'Jewish Indiana Jones' more of a Walter Mitty

James Barron, New York

August 26, 2011


Menachem Youlus. Photo: AP


HE DESCRIBED himself as a risk-taking rabbi who had been ''beaten up, thrown in jail and gone $US175,000 into debt'' on ''expeditions'' to Eastern Europe and Russia.

He said his mission was to rescue and restore Torahs that had been ''wrenched from their communities during the Holocaust'' and place them with congregations that would look after them. ''I guess you could call me the Jewish Indiana Jones,'' he wrote in 2004.

But on Wednesday, the rabbi, Menachem Youlus, was arrested in Manhattan on fraud charges. Court papers said he had never gone to the far-flung places he talked about and had made up the stories he told about discovering Torahs at the sites of the Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen concentration camps - or in Iraq in 2007.

Instead, prosecutors accused him of selling fake Torahs and pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars through Save a Torah, the non-profit organisation he co-founded in 2004. A postal inspector who investigated Youlus's dealings also challenged his tale of financial troubles, saying in court papers that the rabbi had never been deeply in debt.

The postal inspector, Greg Ghiozzi, said Youlus had taken more than $US340,000 of the $US1.2 million collected by the charity, including at least $145,000 he had diverted into his own bank account.

He spelled out how Youlus had used the money to pay for private school tuition for his children and for personal expenses. Youlus had submitted ''falsely inflated and doctored invoices to Save a Torah'' to increase the amounts he received as reimbursements for Torahs.

Youlus, 50, who also runs a Jewish bookstore in Maryland, was released on $100,000 bail after an appearance in federal court. Outside the court, he declined to discuss the case. His lawyer, Paul Rooney, said: ''We deny the accusations.''

Mr Ghiozzi said in court papers that he had found nothing to support Youlus's claim that he had rescued a Torah that had been at Auschwitz.

In April 2008, just before the rededication of a Torah in a ceremony at Central Synagogue in Manhattan on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Youlus said he had dug it out of the ground after finding it with a metal detector.

He also said a sexton in Poland had buried most of the scroll before the Germans got there and that Jewish prisoners in the concentration camp had given the rest - four panels - to a Catholic priest before they were put to death.

Some historians specialising in Holocaust studies questioned Youlus's account.

Mr Ghiozzi said that in 2007, Youlus met a historian who described his own search for the Auschwitz Torah.

Mr Ghiozzi also said that in 2004, when Youlus claimed he had gone to look for it, the only overseas trip he had taken was a two-week visit to Israel.

He also said there was no evidence that Youlus had discovered a Torah in 2002 that he claimed had been hidden beneath a barracks at the Bergen-Belsen camp.

Mr Ghiozzi said a historian had told him Youlus's account did not add up, because the barracks were destroyed by the British army weeks after the camp was liberated in 1945.


Read more:

No comments: