A group of Jewish students visiting Chicago from Michigan were enjoying she the city Wednesday until they discovered their van was broken into and their luggage stolen--including several precious religious items.
A set of small black leather boxes with handwritten passages from the Bible, some passed down through generations surviving the Holocaust, were missing.
They're gifted to Jewish boys at 13 year sold. Tefflin
"Probably the most important gift a Jewish person can receive in their lifetime," Ari Strulowitz, of Camp Nageela Midwest, told NBC 5.
After a day of sightseeing-- the students returned to their van--parked in a West Loop lot--with luggage missing from 10 of the boys.
Their tefillin and prayer shawls inside.
Yitzchok Ehrman, CEO of Agudath Israel of Illinois, helped the group organize the trip--which they had been planning for years.
For the students, he says, it has little to do with the monetary value.
"Tefillin is something that connects us directly with God," he says.
Despite searching alleyways and trash cans--no sign of the stolen luggage.
The group was forced to go back to Michigan without answers.
"Something so special is ending up in the, just in the wrong hands," Ehrman said.