Fire Tears Through Historic Beth Hamedrash Hagodol Synagogue on LES: FDNY

DNA Info - May 15, 2017

by Noah Hurowitz

LOWER EAST SIDE — More than 100 firefighters scrambled to douse a massive blaze in a historic, unoccupied synagogue on the Lower East Side on Sunday evening, according to the FDNY.

The fire broke out just before 7 p.m. inside the Beth Hamedrash Hagodol synagogue, at 64 Norfolk St. on Sunday, an FDNY spokesman said. Videos showed flames shooting out of the front of the building, which has been empty for years.

The synagogue, which was designated a city landmark in 1967, shut down in 2007, according to an interview with Rabbi Mandl Greenbaum published on the blog The Lo-Down.

A video produced by the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy from 2008 shows the interior of the synagogue suffering from severe neglect, with crumbling ceilings and debris inside.

The Department of Buildings issued a violation to the synagogue’s owners in 2011 citing collapsed ceilings, and the violation remains open more than five years later, records show.

It was not immediately clear what sparked the fire, officials said.