NJ rabbi relives running into flames to save Torah

Rabbi of historic synagogue recalls the harrowing moments of Friday's fire, 'nearly 100 years erased in a single moment.'

Chaim Lev,

New Jersey fire
New Jersey fire

Just days after the horrific fire that burned down the historic Congregation Poile Zedek Synagogue in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the synagogue's Rabbi Abraham Mykoff recalled the difficult events of last Friday night.

"It's impossible to describe the awful feeling, aside from the synagogue that went up in flames with Torah scrolls in the ark," the rabbi said Monday morning, reports the haredi paper Hamevaser.

"Nearly 100 years were erased in one moment, a synagogue steeped with prayers of Jews who prayed here nearly 100 years," said Rabbi Mykoff. "It's a tragedy of a scale that can't be described, even if we wanted to."

Recalling how he tried to save the Torah scrolls from the blaze, he said, "I was called to the synagogue immediately when the fire broke out."

"The upper floor already was on fire, and it was impossible to go in to save the Torah scrolls; I ran to the lower floor and at least got out the Torah scroll that was on the lower floor."

"The building was entirely burned, and only the external surrounding of the building was left, and we still don't know if we'll be able to rebuild or will be forced to demolish it all," he said.

It remains unclear what the causes of the fire were; firefighters say they were notified relatively late making it impossible for them to save the building.

The synagogue was recognized as an historic building back in 1995.

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