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Visiting Jewish Students Have Valuable Belongings Stolen From Van In Chicago

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Young Jewish students visiting Chicago did not feel Chicago's warmth Tuesday night after one of their vans was broken into and some of their luggage taken.

The 32 Orthodox Jewish boys were celebrating their 8th grade graduation from Yeshiva Beth Yehudah, a Southfield, Michigan day school.

While the group was on a Chicago water taxi and seeing downtown sites on Tuesday evening, one of their vans was broken into and the luggage of 10 boys was stolen.

According to Chicago Rabbi Yitzchok Ehrman, a friend of the organizers of the trip, inside the taken luggage were tefillins, used during morning prayer.

Rabbi Ehrman describes tefillins as "a set of small leather boxes containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Torah."

He says each is worth $2,000-$3,000 each.

"It was the most valuable thing financially and emotional," Rabbi Ehrman said. "There were boys that literally started tearing about this tefillin."

Rabbi Ehrman said he and a chaperone drove through alleys all night hoping whoever stole the luggage had discarded the religious items. They found nothing. The rabbi was able borrow 10 of them for the boys until the tefillins are replaced.

Rabbi Ehrman is still holding out hope they'll be found.

The rabbi said the the group had parked at ABM Parking Services at 541 W. Lake Street.

He said he hopes there was security video from the nearby train station in order to track down whoever stole the luggage.

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