One Week, 2 Chabad Centres, 3 Arsons: Boston Jews Alarmed
Authorities in Massachusetts are investigating whether three incidents at Chabad centers in Arlington and Needham are connected.
Rabbi Avi Bukiet and his wife, Luna make their home at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life Arlington-Belmont in Arlington, 10 miles northwest of Boston. They were targeted by an arsonist May 11 and again Thursday night.
About an hour later on Thursday in Needham, another fire was intentionally set at the Chabad Jewish Center, a “multi-service organization serving the Jewish communities of Needham, Dedham, Dover, and Westwood ... dedicated to serving the Jewish community with Ahavas Yisroel — an unconditional love and concern for every Jew, regardless of age, background, affiliation, or level of observance.”
Needham police Chief John Schlittler said the Thursday night fire in his town broke out at the Chabad Jewish Center around 10 p.m. A Facebook post stated Rabbi Mendy Krinsky put it out with a fire extinguisher as his wife, Chanie, woke the children and got them outside. The two Chabad facilities are about 15 miles apart.
The first fire started around 11 p.m. last Saturday in the rear of the building and was quickly put out. Thursday, an officer used a fire extinguisher to put out another blaze in the rear of the Bukiet residence, limiting damage to a shingle. Acting Arlington Police Chief Julie Flaherty told the press the fires “appear to be a direct assault on our community” and “are leaving open and actively investigating the possibility of a hate crime”. Police have released video footage of a suspicious person leaving the area Saturday. Massachusetts Fire Marshal Peter Ostroskey said, “Every arson fire causes fear and anxiety in the community, but one in a house of worship especially so."
“In my heart of hearts, it feels that this was something that was perpetrated because we are the Center for Jewish Life,” Rabbi Bukiet told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “But I can’t say yet for certain and will wait” for authities to investigate further.
Luna Bukiet told a press conference she and her husband will keep spreading a “universal message of light and love” and vowed that “this will not deter us.”
Two weeks ago the Anti-Defamation League released its Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents showing that 2018 was the second-highest year on record for anti-Semitic incidents reported in Massachusetts. Fifty-eight municipalities in Massachusetts reported at least one anti-Semitic incident last year, the fourth-highest number of incidents per state in the country (144), following California (341), New York (340), and New Jersey (200).
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