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Police Seek Three Who Fled from NYC Synagogue Fire

NY Daily News - May 17, 2017

by LEONARD GREENE JOHN ANNESE ROCCO PARASCANDOLA

Three people were spotted dashing from the scene of a raging fire at a historic Lower East Side synagogue Sunday night, police sources said Monday.

FDNY officials are still investigating the cause of the blaze, which gutted the Beth Hamedrash Hagodol synagogue — a 167-year-old house of worship on Norfolk St. near Broome St. It’s not clear if the people spotted running — two male, one female — had anything to do with the fire.

The crumbling synagogue was shuttered in 2007, and its leadership later filed a “hardship application with the city Landmarks Preservation Commission to tear it down, but later backed off on that application after hearing community input.

The city Buildings Department issued a full vacate order Monday, calling the synagogue “structurally compromised.”

“We don’t know what the condition of the building is going to be. We still hope it can be preserved,” said Rabbi Mendel Greenbaum, who heads the congregation. “We took out a while ago all the holy scrolls and all the valuables, so thankfully nothing was harmed.”

Greenbaum said investigators were looking into whether “some kids” were responsible for the blaze, but didn’t offer specifics Monday.