Meteorite damages Siberia shul

By Ray Filar, February 21, 2013
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The meteorite that sent rock fragments raining down over Russia last Friday, injuring more than 500 people, damaged a Siberian shul during morning prayers.

Congregants were hurt and windows smashed at the Federation shul in the city of Chelyabinsk, 950 miles east of Moscow.

The meteorite is reported to have broken up in the sky miles above the Ural Mountains, causing a sonic boom and sending flaming fragments to Earth.

Chelyabinsk synagogue Rabbi Meir Kirsh said: “We were standing in shul on Friday morning, during shacharis. Somebody saw a streak of light go straight past the window and the whole sky became very light, unusual.

“Some people went outside to see what happened and a few minutes later there was a very strong blast and the windows of the shul started falling down from all sides.

“We didn’t know what it was, we thought maybe somebody had put a bomb by the shul,” he said.

According to reports, the shockwave set off car alarms, smashed windows and buckled shop fronts.

People in the area posted videos showing what appears to have been a large fireball shooting across the sky. A long, white trail could allegedly be seen in Yekaterinburg, a city 125 miles away in the Ural Mountains.

No fatalities have been reported, but accounts suggest between 500 and 1,200 people were injured across the region, with around 300 people seeking treatment at Chelyabinsk city hospital.

Built in 1905, Chelyabinsk synagogue houses a library and serves as a Jewish community centre, cheder and women’s club. It was used as a concert hall and then a factory for producing artificial limbs by the Soviet government during the 1930s.

Last updated: 3:00pm, February 21 2013