Forty Torahs Destroyed in Jewish Theological Seminary Fire

Officials of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the educational arm of Conservative Judaism, have estimated this weekend that restoration and replacement of losses suffered in the disastrous April 18 fire in the Seminary library will cost about $2, 000, 000 and take a year and a half to complete.

Chancellor Louis Finkelstein told a press conference that the Ford Foundation had granted the JTS $100, 000 for the repair and salvage program. He estimated that about 60, 000 books — about one third of the Seminary’s collection — had been destroyed and about 30, 000 others were damaged beyond repair. Forty Torahs, including some from Poland, were also destroyed.

Although the New York City Fire Marshall’s office said that after four days of investigation it had not found evidence of arson, Dr. Finkeistein said he thought the blaze was incendiary. He said the fire had been preceded by three earlier ones in recent weeks, the first fires since 1929.

NEXT STORY