SMILING SICKO: Arsonist Suspect Matthew Karelefsky Who Nearly Murdered 12 People Grins In Court

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AP Pool photo

The man who is accused of torching a Flatbush home on Thursday was grinning from ear to ear in Brooklyn Criminal Court on Sunday night.

As YWN reported just after Shabbos, Matthew Karlefsky, 41, was taken into custody and charged with two counts of attempted murder in the inferno that sent 12 people to the hospital – including a 6-week-old infant.

His intended target was Rabbi Yonason Max, a longtime Rebbe at Mesivta Yeshiva Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin in Midwood. The suspect had a tattoo on his arm calling for the death of Rabbi Max. His tattoo, which reads “Never let go of the HATRED – KILL Rabbi Max. YEMACH SMHO,” was visible – along with his big smile – in court.

“He said he would destroy him reputationally and then he came to actually kill him physically,” Ezra Max, the rabbi’s son told the media.

Max said his father even had a restraining order issued against the suspect.

“I know that he had a plan to kill my dad,” Max added.

[INCREDIBLE: Entire House Destroyed In Flatbush Fire – Seforim Miraculously Survive [VIDEO & PHOTOS]

Karelefsky posted ramblings for years all over social media – even contacting YWN multiple times – where among other things – he blamed Rabbi Max for his divorce. The NY Post says he once posted on Facebook saying he wished his own son would step in front of a bus.

Brooklyn Assistant DA Tziyonah Langsam told the Court that Rabbi Max was at home at the time of the blaze, and video shows Karelefsky running the scene. Karelefsky admitted setting the fire, and when he was arrested, he possessed lighter fluid, an ax and knives.

Karelefsky lived in Brooklyn until 2007, when he moved to the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area. He has lived there since then. On various social media accounts and comments on websites targeted toward Jewish audiences, Karelefsky has written about converting to Christianity and his anger with Jewish communities he was previously a part of.

Matthew Karelefsky was arrested after an investigation by the NYPD. He is being held without bail pending his arraignment on charges that include attempted murder and arson.

Karelefsky was twice arrested in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, where he lives, in recent years. In August 2010, he was charged with simple assault. The case was later withdrawn. He was then charged in 2017 with criminal use of a communication facility, a felony, and making terroristic threats. The charges in that case were eventually dismissed. Further details about those cases were not immediately available.

[FUND ESTABLISHED TO HELP THE SIX FAMILIES THAT LOST EVERYTHING]

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)




32 COMMENTS

  1. Obviously nothing justifies his actions, but let this be a lesson for Rabbeim and teachers as much as you need to be mechanech children and TEENAGERS be ultra careful that you don’t make enemies that will come back to bite you. Theres another side to the coin here and again I reiterate its not justified but its definitely food for thought for openminded people.

  2. Yes poster #1, pd, you never know when nut cases will become unhinged. Obviously this is a crazed individual and likely our “unjustice” system will let him off with a light smack on the wrist, if even that much!

  3. Let us hope he is remanded to a cell to be shared with real ruffians.

    I disagree with previous post. Lesson for rebbeim is that in today’s society, there are far too many nut jobs and mixed nuts out there. Rebbeim are not trained to deal with raw or shelled nuts. Dont embrace these nuts and leave them to the trained professionals to be handled with. I can only wonder how normal the ex-wife is to have taken this nut in matrimony.

  4. Pd; Re-read the article. He blames Rabbi Max for his divorce which was obviously post high school! Clearly his ex realized how disturbed he was and wanted out and Rabbi Max must have sided with her provoking his eternal hatred.
    Of course Mechanchim should teach with kindness and love because that’s the way it should be, not because of bizarre cases like this.

  5. PD: Make sure your kids, siblings and neighbors don’t have ANYTHING against you or they might go off the derech
    LEGIT THERE’S A LIMIT TO HOW MUCH WE CAN BLAME OTHERS FOR THE ACTIONS OF RETARDS

  6. While I understand why my post was not printed – do you think that by not posting it – YOU become part of the problem, not the solution?!? There is a reason this guy is Nuts & why he torched s/o’s house.

  7. I’ve known this guy for a while. He has definitely been through the wringer and his underlying mental illness was exacerbated by what life threw at him. I’d say it’s unfair for others to judge him by the standard of a mentally stable person or someone who has had a relatively untroubled life.

  8. PD

    Rabbi Max is a Tzadik and opened his house to this animal for years. Nothing to do with his teenage years. Before you make your assumption, and try to badmouths our Heiligeh Rebbiem, do your homework!

  9. Yisroel H I did some homework.We are stopping right here!!! Rabbeim are wonderful and Rabbi max is wonderful but there are plenty of stories that can fill a library of things that Rabeim said and did that affected talmidim in the good and bad. We can’t point fingers but When something like this happens u have to learn something and this a basic lesson that’s all.

  10. Y: So what is a sick “deranged” person? Not someone who is mentally ill? There are large numbers of mentally ill out there who qualify as deranged but as I wrote earlier they are not committing such vile acts.
    This was a very calculated evil act that goes beyond regular mental illness/derangement.

  11. He’s nuts because he’s nuts. Adam muad liolam. A mentally unstable person acting the way such a person acts when they dont get the help they need.

  12. pd, you are a good person.
    Some more food for thought though, open minded might not mean letting everything you hear in.

  13. Health and Kluger
    as Uncle Ben said, “Re-read the article. He blames Rabbi Max for his divorce which was obviously post high school!”

    Pd, ” Rabbeim are wonderful and Rabbi max is wonderful but there are plenty of stories that can fill a library of things that Rabeim said and did that affected talmidim in the good and bad. We can’t point fingers but When something like this happens u have to learn something and this a basic lesson that’s all.”

    This has nothing to do with what your talking about, the comment could have been written on any other news story

  14. its too bad NYPD downright IGNORED the threat posed by a guy who OPENLY said he would kill Rabbi Max he is what the Torah calls a rodef, yet NYPD is so busy covering up crimes to show crime is “falling”

  15. gleicher choosid and all you other guys that are blaming things on instability Ive got big news!!! THERE ARE TRUCK LOADS OF UNSTABLE PEOPLE TODAY DUE TO THIS CRAZY SOCIETY. JUST BECAUSE YOU DONT HEAR SUCH STORIES EVERYDAY IT DOESNT MEAN THIS STORY IS AN EXCEPTION. Let me give an example the fact that there aren’t 1000 accidents in Lakewood is nothing short of a miracle. Every time someone backs out of his driveway in these contested development every time some bachurim walks around in the pitch dark Lakewood etc. etc. It doesn’t mean that drivers are not reckless. When 911 happened everybody said OMG!!! and I said why doesn’t this thing happen everyday in such an unstable and naive world where everyone thinks they are safe. Therefore Im coming back with my statement ATTENTION RABEIYIM AND ANYONE IN CHINUCH WE ARE LIVING IN A MAD WORLD WITH MANY UNSTABLE PEOPLE JUST BE CAREFUL!!! AND WHOEVER THINKS I AM EXAGGERATING JUST LOOK AT ALL THE ANTI VOXERS AND MAYBE LOOK IN MIRROR!!

  16. oyyoyyoy -“This has nothing to do with what your talking about, the comment could have been written on any other news story”

    My comment was Not based on the Comments on YWN, but on something I read on Twitter.
    Uncle Ben should Not be commenting from just YWN’s take on the story!

  17. That clip of the house going up in flames in mere seconds is petrifying. We have to give shevach ve’hoda’ah to the Ribboioi Shel Olam who saved these families from death R”L. A nes galu’iy…