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One Jewish diner killed, one injured, after car crashes into DC patio

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The historic Congregation Tephereth Israel synagogue in New Britain, Connecticut, was damaged in a deliberately set fire, as part of a weeklong attack on religious sites by an area woman alleged to be a ‘devil worshiper’.  (Screencap: nbcconnecticut.com)

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Police were already on the trail of a serial arsonist when she started a fire around 8 PM on Friday, March 11 at the Congregation Tephereth Israel in New Britain, Connecticut, and then moved on to damage a pair of churches.

The Winter St. building is on the National Register of Historic Places. The fire, which took about an hour to quell, spread behind the basement walls causing damage to an upper balcony and doors, and ate a hole in the first floor. 

The synagogue has been vacant for some time due to Covid precautions and the Torah scrolls were not stored in the building. StopAntisemitism.org called the attack on the orthodox congregation, founded in 1925, “Horrifying”.

Police apprehended Kimora Parker for the synagogue fire, and a subsequent fire at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church on Friday and then a break and enter at St. Joseph Church. All happened within a one hour span with video surveillance aiding in the arrest. Pastor Mark Valigorsky of St. Matthew’s woman said Parker set fire to items on a lit stove then left them burning while she ran out. “It is a hate crime, if you will, that someone would do this.” 

According to the Hartford Courant, “she has a history of convictions for interfering with police, larceny and assault and was on special parole at the time of her arrest, court records show.” Eyewitnesses had placed Parker as “a person of interest in vandalism at a Greek Orthodox church, a small fire at a church on Curtis Street and a fire in a Grove Hill house” in the days before the Friday-night rampage.

A police affidavit stated she was found with “outdated and antiquated bills and receipts (addressed to the synagogue).” Parker, who police noted was also known as Akeem McDavid, was charged with third-degree burglary and third-degree arson in connection with the fire at the Synagogue, with a $260,000 bail set.

Television station WFSB reported that concerned friends attending court said Parker has been worshiping the devil.

“She started worshiping Santeria and witchcraft and that’s all that stuff and that’s what she’s practicing. And that’s what she is putting in her home. She is taking elements from our streets, breaking them and using them as part of rituals. She said that it’s time for the world to change,” said Luis Malave. A friend for 15 years, he said about Parker, “Burning churches isn’t righteous. You already burned the Bible. I just hope that God can touch you while you’re in there [jail] and make a change for you,”

“I think she’s having a mental breakdown,” said Caleb Newburry. “I think she is psychologically just not there. She is losing her grip on reality.” 

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On the first day that patios were re-opened in Washington, DC, a horrific traffic mishap claimed the lives of two women and injured nine other patrons at the Parthenon Restaurant and Chevy Chase Lounge.

Art educator Terese Dudnick Taffer, a 73-year-old originally from Philadelphia, was killed just after noon on March 11 after an elderly male driver accelerated his SUV off an Exxon gas station lot and sped across the street, launched over the curb and flew into the lunchtime patio crowd. Also killed was Jane Bloom, 76, a former senior liaison with The International Catholic Migration Commission.

Both Taffer and Bloom were heavily involved in the arts community and lived in the DC neighborhood of Cleveland Park, although there was no confirmation they were acquainted or were seated at the same table when they were hit.

Three people were sent to hospital in critical condition, three more for less severe injuries, and three victims were treated on scene. Among those seriously injured was Shelton Zuckerman, a real estate developer and co-founder of Sixth & I synagogue in D.C. 

“The whole thing took less than two seconds,” a diner seated nearby told the Washington Post. “It was like he was shot out of a cannon. If he had gone completely straight he would have gone into the front door, but he swerved to the right and just mowed down all the tables.”

Terry Taffer was a beloved art supporter and educator in New York and D.C., tragically killed in a fluke car crash while she dined on an outdoor patio on March 11. (Photo: Facebook)

The popular Taffer, known as Terry, was one of four children, and after graduating from the Philadelphia High School for Girls she attended the University of Michigan. She earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in French and French Literature and studying in France, reflecting a lifelong passion. She married and raised two children in the New York City area, and their holidays in and around Paris were a frequent subject of her letters published by the New York Times.

Her career as an educator included a high school in Squirrel Hill, a stint in Pittsburgh, and later in life at Seton Hall University. 

According to her obituary, Terry “lived in New York City, NY from 2000 to 2019 and worked for years planning culinary and cultural events at the FIAF French Institute Alliance Française.” Among her pursuits were collecting Cuban art and the study of art history, as well as Jewish history and Hebrew. 

She moved to the District in 2019 to be closer to her grandchildren, her brother said, and was an active member of the Adas Israel Congregation. In Washington, Taffer joined ArtTable, an organization dedicated to advancing the leadership of women in the visual arts, and helped host a leadership awards ceremony last year, according to the group’s website.

Her family noted, “She will always be remembered for her joie de vivre, kindness, curiosity, and boundless love for her family. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the HIAS, www.hias.org/donate.”

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

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