Lost Religious Document Turns Up Not on E-Bay, But at Sotheby's

A 215-year-old Jewish manuscript discovered missing a decade ago will be returned by the German library where it surfaced, an Israeli official said Tuesday.

A 1998 inventory check at the Tel Aviv's Rambam Library revealed that the one-of-a-kind manuscript was missing. Titled "The Book of the Levite's Worship," it was a treatise on Jewish law written by a Berlin rabbi in 1793.

The police had no leads on the possible thief and closed the case, said Avigdor Levin, the top cultural official at the Tel Aviv municipality.

A year later, the manuscript was offered at auction at Sotheby's in New York for between $16,000 and $18,000 and was not purchased, but was later sold to an unidentified dealer and disappeared again before the Israelis could put their hands on it, he said.

The manuscript was finally found thanks to a stroke of luck. In 2005, a manuscript specialist at Israel's national library in Jerusalem received a copy of a book being held by the German National Library and realized it was the "Levite's Worship."

After a legal team established that it was indeed the missing book, the German library agreed to return it to Tel Aviv. Levin said the Germans displayed "a lot of good will." Story from the AP.

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