nsucurrent.com April 25, 2018

Fire that destroyed NYC synagogue deliberately set

17 May 2017, 12:47 | Lowell Little

Orange flames and thick smoke billowed from front of Beth Hamedrash Hagodol synagogue

Orange flames and thick smoke billowed from front of Beth Hamedrash Hagodol synagogue

At one point, Beth Hamedrash Hagadol even considered tearing the building down and selling the land, but outcry from preservationists led the synagogue's leadership to change its tune.

Investigators are trying to find out what sparked a massive fire at a historic synagogue on the Lower East Side.

It took 138 fire fighters and 33 emergency vehicles from three different fire stations to get the fire under control Sunday and two fire fighters received minor injuries as a result, according to an FDNY spokesman.

The man told FDNY marshals that he saw smoke billowing out of the historic Beth Hamedrash Hagadol synagogue on Norfolk Street before spotting the trio sprinting away from the building, sources said Monday.

It is reported that the synagogue Beth Ha-Midrash ha-Gadol built in 1850-ies, the Jews who arrived from Russian Federation.

The cause of the blaze is now under investigation.

The Gothic structure was originally built in 1850 as a Baptist church, and was landmarked by the city in 1967. The building had been abandoned in 2007 due to dwindling synagogue membership.

Rabbi Mendel Greenbaum, who has headed the synagogue for about 30 years, said all Torahs, religious scrolls and artifacts were safe and not inside the building at the time of the fire.

Sakowich said the fire remains under investigation but that information the department has gathered so far indicates the fire started inside the building.

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