NY Synagogue Nearly Burns Down, Five Firefighters Lightly Hurt
The Kehilath Jeshurun synagogue, founded in 1872, was being renovated. No Torah scrolls were inside when it went up in flames. The roof caved in.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 7/12/2011, 2:19 PM / Last Update: 7/12/2011, 2:36 PM
Five firefighters were lightly hurt but no holy books were damaged in a large fire that has badly damaged one of New York City’s most prominent synagogues.
The four-alarm fire broke out in Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun on Manhattan’s Upper East Side at around 8:30 on Monday night, causing the synagogue's roof to collapse and severely damaging the building's top floors.
The New York Fire Department reportedly is concerned about the building’s structural integrity. At a certain point the FDNY removed all fire personnel from the building because of the heavy fire conditions, and instead moved to what is referred to as an “exterior attack”.
The fire was brought under control an hour after it began. Four firefighters sustained minor injuries quelling the blaze, according to The New York Times reported.
The cause of the fire, which fire officials think began on the roof or top floor, has not yet been determined.
The synagogue building had been undergoing renovations. Religious articles had been removed prior to construction, so no Torah scrolls were damaged in the fire.
Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun is led by Rabbi Haskell Lookstein, a leading figure in American Modern Orthodoxy.
Numerous Hatzolah Ambulances, FDNY EMS, NYPD, and OEM were on scene.
The synagogue was founded in 1872 and is closely affiliated with the Ramaz School which shares a building with the lower school and is across the street from the middle school.