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Fire Set to Belzer Yeshiva in New York, Causing $80,000 Destruction

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Police officials continued today their still unsuccessful search for clues to the cause of a suspicious fire which caused $80, 000 worth of damage on Monday night to the Yeshiva Machzikel of Belz, a target of repeated vandalism in recent months.

Rabbi Maximilian Gruenberg, dean of the Orthodox Jewish school for boys, anticipating a Yom Kippur attack, wrote on September 25 to New York City Police Commissioner Michael Murphy and Mayer Robert F. Wagner. The rabbi asked for special police watch on the building which had been repeatedly damaged since July.

Commissioner Murphy replied that the matter had been referred for “appropriate attention” and Mayor Wagner personally signed a reply assuring the rabbi “of my interest. ” Police insisted the building did get special protection on Monday night when the fire broke out on the second floor. Extensive damage occurred in the dean’s office, two classrooms and to educational paraphernalia. The building is a three-story former public school purchased from the city for $29, 000 and extensively renovated.

Rabbi Gruenberg said only $50, 000 of the damage was covered by insurance. Heartsick over the persistent attacks, he said he would like to trade with the city for another building far away in some other section. He showed visitors how vertical steel bars of the school fence had been wrenched with such force that their concrete holding base had been split. The city fire department said that evidence had been found of malicious damage done before the fire began.

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