Fire destroys New York synagogue and scrolls

The New York blaze took hours to control


Torah scrolls badly damaged by the fire

Authorities are investigating an early-morning fire at a synagogue in suburban New York, which destroyed the building and the congregation’s Torah scrolls.

The fire broke out around 5:30 am at the Chassidim 110 synagogue in Pomona, N.Y. The fire completely engulfed the structure and burned for several hours. Multiple fire departments were called to get the blaze under control.

There has been no word on the cause of the blaze, and no one was hurt in the fire.

According to a spokesperson for the Haverstraw Police Department, which services the Pomona area, a full investigation is under way.

Joseph Margaretten, a coordinator for the volunteer emergency services group Chaverim, said that his organisation was on the scene to help with the rescue of the Torah scrolls. The three scrolls were stored in a safe, which had become submerged in water during the fire-fighting efforts.

Working in coordination with local fire and police officials, Chaverim members were able to unlock the safe. However, there was significant “damage from the heat and the water,” he said. “We have to see if one can be saved.”

The others are beyond repair, Margaretten said.

A funeral for the Torah scrolls will be and they will be buried in accordance with Jewish law. That is expected to happen shortly. The synagogue has set up a fundraising site to help with their costs. They wrote that their community is “devastated and shaken,” and waiting to hear about the “depth of destruction” and if any of the seforim (Jewish books), tefillin or furniture is salvageable.

Aryeh Rosenblum, CEO of the Jewish Federation and Foundation of Rockland County, told the Jewish Chronicle, “We are saddened by the possible damage to Torah scrolls and ritual objects. Our director of security has been in contact with the synagogue leadership, local fire and police, and local volunteer agencies since early this morning. We are reaching out to see how we can help.”

Pomona is located in Rockland County, NY, and is home to a growing Orthodox Jewish community.

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