A team of devoted volunteers from the tri-state area has unfortunately not yet found two pairs of missing tefillin that were thrown out and ended up in a landfill in the Rochester, NY, area.
Despite reports to the contrary, the tefillin have not been recovered.
Matzav.com spoke to an individual who believes that it was his message, sent out last night, that triggered the false report that the tefillin were found. He had sent a photo of a tefillin bag to a reporter, and the photo was mistakenly thought to be that of the missing tefillin. This individual’s message was picked up by two media outlets – including one Israeli outlet, with Hebrew and English websites – and was then spread on social media.
The individual regrets that it led to false jubilation, as the tefillin still remain lost.
One version purports that a television report, a video of which was posted on Matzav.com last night, led to the misunderstanding, but the time frame suggests that the aforementioned individual’s message was the actual trigger of the rumors.
“It was a simple misunderstanding,” he said of the false report, “but it could have been prevented.”
The group of volunteers returned home after searching in over a dozen trash receptacles. The search is expected to continue with a new cadre of volunteers.
As reported on Matzav.com last week, a mispallel at the Lee Garden Shul on Lorimer Street in Williamsburg was shocked to discover on a recent Thursday morning that his tallis and tefillin were missing from the cubby in which he placed his bag after davening at the Satmar shul the day before. Unbeknownst to him, the tefillin weren’t stolen, but rather fell into a garbage can next to the cubbies Wednesday evening, as can be seen in the video clip below.
This revelation, however, only became known when the surveillance cameras at the shul were examined. By that time, the garbage bag was already collected by the New York Sanitation Department and dropped off at a transfer station, where it was mixed with thousands of tons of refuse. It was then shipped several hundred miles via rail to a landfill in the Rochester area.
A desperate operation was launched to save the tefillin.
The private waste transfer firm and landfill owners understood how painful and important this matter was. They zeroed in on 50 rail cars – containing approximate 1,000 tons of garbage – where the tefillin might be, and graciously agreed to provide a large site at the landfill where the content of these rails can be spread out to be sifted through by volunteers.
Volunteers were outfitted with special rakes and safety gear to work at the landfill, and were provided with travel expenses and food.
The following are photos and video from the search: