Missing Tefillin Have Not Been Found Yet


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:





  1. All this money being spent to find this lost object, can be better used to help the poor in our community put bread on their table in a michubadikeh way.

  2. despite their good intentions & we know they mean well, but the efforts and expenses incurred in the search far outweigh the cost of the tefillin. it also sends a messg that tefillin are so valuable that this can encourage theft. does halacha require this length of effort?

  3. I don’t understand the commenters who are asking about the cost benefit, when the psak is posted along with the rest of the story.

    Or can it be that they cannot read basic loshon kodesh, but feel they still can pasken?

  4. i’m curious….was this original false reporting that the talis/tfillin were found possibly the result of an infection that the mainstream media spread to jewish website reporters? the “mainstream media” i’m referring to are the ones that were way off in the last presidential election.

  5. My car was broken into in Manhattan about 25 years ago. I had my brand new pair of tefilin packed in a duffel bag which was stolen. I was extremely upset but I knew that there was practically nothing that could have been done to try and locate them.

  6. i did read it and there are a number of nice words but dont really apply from a halacha standpoint . emotions and feelings also need to be guided by torah , believe it hashem allowed the tefillin to slip into the garbage
    1 as far as bizayon kisvei kodesh they are already compacted in tons of garbage the bizayon was done already
    2. the mitzva to be matzil is if you see it and know where it is ( naflu alav mapoles …
    3. chilul hashem? we definitly can improve in that but this has NOTHING to do with it yes they searched and accomodated and a thank u letter would suffice no one expects to send a bus of ppl. this all happened because of r niederman making a big hupla over an innocent mistake .enough said

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