A Maryland Torah scribe whose dramatic claims of rescuing Holocaust-era scrolls came under suspicion earlier this year has agreed to stop making such assertions unless he can prove them, according to an agreement reached with Maryland’s Attorney General. The document provides that Rabbi Menachem Youlus’ Save A Torah organization, which claimed to have restored more than 1,000 sifrei Torah in the last 25 years and returned them to Jewish hands, “will only describe where a Torah was found or provide an account of its rescue if there is documentation or an independent verifiable witness to such history. Rabbi Youlus had claimed that the Torah scrolls he found and sold came from such exotic settings as a “Gestapo body bag,” a cemetery near Auschwitz and the space under the floorboards of a concentration camp barracks. An article in the Washington Post Magazine in January questioned the veracity of the rabbi’s claims, citing a lack of corroborating evidence, and leading to an investigation by the Maryland Attorney General.
The agreement is “75 percent positive — Youlus has been exposed as a charlatan … Save A Torah and Youlus are under an affirmative prohibition with respect to the fabrication” of stories about the scrolls, said Menachem Rosensaft, vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants and adjunct professor of law at Cornell Law School. Rosensaft wrote to Attorney General Douglas Gansler earlier this year, charging Rabbi Youlus with “possible fraud and/or misrepresentation” and “soliciting funds under false pretenses.”