Police in New York
Police in New York Nati Shohat / Flash 90

The New York Police Department continues to investigate a string of arsons targeting a heavily Jewish neighborhood of Queens. 

Police arrested a suspect last week for the Forest Hills fires which damaged homes owned by Bukharan Jews that were under construction.

However, the man, a resident of the neighborhood, was later released after it was determined he had no connection to the fires. 

After initially attributing the arsons to a dispute over Bukharan Jews' proclivity for constructing new houses in the neighborhood, police are now unsure if the fires were anti-Semitic hate crimes or simply random.

"I don't know what to think," said Rabbi Valman Zvulunov, the director of the Bukharian Jewish Center’s yeshiva. His house was burned down last Monday in the most recent incident. 

"Only Jewish houses are being set on fire, and it may be indicative of something. But I have no idea who is responsible."

Another resident suggested the arsonist may be suffering from insanity. 

NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said police were looking into whether the arsons were a hate crime, and called on the public's help, but Jewish residents were far from comforted.  

“We feel like we’re on our own, and that’s not a great feeling to have,” said Manashe Khaimov, who works with Bukharan community groups.

Join our official WhatsApp group