Barely three months after it’s grand opening, a Chabad house in San Jose, California was completely destroyed in a massive blaze.
The fire, which was called into the fire department shortly before 7 am on Wednesday, began in the building’s carport before spreading to the rest of the building, Mercury News reported.
The blaze remains under investigation, though police have already determined that the cause was not a hate crime or racially motivated, according to a report from JNews.
A homeless man seen on surveillance footage is believed to be the individual responsible for the blaze.
The shul’s Sifrei Torah were thankfully saved by firefighters who removed them before the flames could engulf the Aron Kodesh.
“The Torahs have a terrible smell on them, but they’ll recover,” Rabbi Mendel Weinfeld, the Chabad shliach who serves as the rav, said. “Thank God that was saved. And thank God there was nobody in the building.”
“I feel bad for the homeless man that just by mistake burnt down the synagogue,” he added.
After more than a year of fundraising, Rabbi Weinfeld and his wife Mussie opened the Chabad center this August, just in time for the yamim noraim and Sukkos. Besides for having a shul, the center held community events and classes for the Jewish community in San Jose.
“It’s shocking to see a synagogue in flames,” Rabbi Weinfeld said. “And we’ve got to react. And our reaction is that we’ll do more, we’ll do another mitzvah. We’ll do something more to make this world a little brighter.”
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)