The upper floors of the historic Kehilath Jeshurun synagogue caught fire on Monday evening, burning through the roof and collapsing it, causing major damage.
Built in 1901
The synagogue was built in 1901 and is situated on East 85th Street on the Upper East Side. The fire began at around 8:30pm. When the firefighters arrived they found the five-story building engulfed in heavy flames shooting out of the top floor and roof.
Residents in nearby buildings were evacuated as a safety measure as the blaze continued for over one hour.
“There was very heavy damage on the upper floors,” said FDNY Chief Robert Sweeney. “The roof burned through and collapsed.”
One witness, Adi Weintraub, who has relatives who are members of the synagogue, described the scene:
“Everything was in flames. I was crying. It was painful.”
The synagogue has been undergoing renovations since May and was gutted with all the religious objects removed from the premises and stored elsewhere.
“Thank God, No One Was Hurt”
The rabbi of the synagogue, Haskel Lookstein, lamented, “It’s a very, very sad picture. Thank God, nobody was hurt.”
The Orthodox synagogue has over 1,200 members whose rabbi is well-known for being the officiating rabbi who converted Ivanka Trump to the Jewish faith to facilitate her marriage to Jared Kushner.
At this time the cause of the fire is still under investigation.