by Menachem Z. Rosensaft, Vice President of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants

Menachem Youlus, the sofer, or Torah scribe, who peddled Torah scrolls that he falsely claimed had “survived” the Holocaust, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court on October 11 to 51 months in jail, followed by three years probation.  He got what he deserved.
For years Youlus defrauded well intentioned Jews who believed his outlandish tales that he had repeatedly risked his life to locate these Torah scrolls and bring them out of Poland, Ukraine, Germany, and other parts of Europe where millions of Jews had been annihilated during World War II.
Youlus preyed on the emotions of individuals who donated the so-called Holocaust Torah scrolls as a gesture of solemn remembrance.  He also solicited charitable donations from bar and bat mitzvah children that he diverted to his personal use.
Many of Youlus’s victims are unable to point an accusing finger at him.  These voiceless victims include all the Torah scrolls that were ripped to shreds, spat upon, and burned by Hitler’s henchmen as part of Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”
When I first heard that Youlus claimed to have found a Torah scroll in a barrack at Bergen-Belsen, I knew he was lying.  Both my parents were liberated there by British troops on April 15, 1945.  Six weeks later, in order to contain a raging typhus epidemic and after taking some 35,000 survivors to a nearby German army base that became the Displaced Persons camp where I was born, the British burned every single one of the camp’s barracks down to the ground.  No barrack has stood there for more than 67 years.  Only mass-graves remain.  I know because I have been there many times to recite Kaddish.
The millions murdered by the Third Reich deserve a rigorously factual and scrupulously honest remembrance. So do the hundreds of thousands of Torah scrolls, prayer books and other sacred Jewish writings and religious artifacts that were decimated in the Holocaust together with thousands upon thousands of Jewish communities, Jewish homes, synagogues and chasidic prayer rooms across Nazi-occupied Europe.