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Fire Set by Arsonists Damages Bethesda, M.d. Conservative Synagogue

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A board of inquiry sought to determine today responsibility for the fire that ravaged Congregation Beth-El of Montgomery County on Saturday, causing damage estimated at least at $25,000 Police and Fire Department officials in Bethesda said the fire at the Conservative synagogue had been deliberately ignited. They sought today to establish whether there was any link between the arson and the racial disorders in the area.

The question of anti-Semitism was considered because the fire occurred at Passover. A nearby Methodist church made its facilities available for the Sabbath Passover services. The main blaze was started in the library. It burned offices, a small chapel and a meeting hall. The main sanctuary was saved, Rabbi Samuel Scolnik said, by the strenuous efforts of the fire fighters. The synagogue had been a collection center for contributions of food for Negroes displaced by the rioting and widespread fires in the adjacent District of Columbia.

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