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New York Jewry–and Israel — Providing Aid to Yeshiva Hit by Arsonists

The New York Jewish community was mobilizing today–with an assist from Israel–to help the fire-devastated Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway, in Brooklyn, recover from its estimated $100,000 to $200,000 loss. The Flat bust Orthodox yeshiva, 11th Jewish house of worship desecrated in the last three months, was the victim of arson yesterday that left its first floor Beis Midrash (study hall and synagogue) gutted. Lost were seven Torahs, thousands of books including Talmud volumes and numerous religious articles. The two-story brick yeshiva, opened a year ago, took “many years of hard struggle” to build, said one source. It was built “dollar by dollar” by the generally low-income Jewish community.

Answering an appeal from Mayor John V. Lindsay, the Israel Government Ministry of Religious Affairs announced today it would fly four Torah scrolls–possibly from an Eastern European collection– to the yeshiva. A man from Valley Stream, L.I. walked in with a fifth scroll. Gifts of money and religious texts, as well as loaned books, were promised today by various private citizens and synagogues. Rabbi Wolfe Kelman, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly of America (Conservative), told the JTA he was taking steps to organize a committee representing various elements of the “community-at-large” to raise funds for restoration. He hopes to obtain emergency grants from Jewish charities which do not normally make contributions to yeshivas.

Rabbi Harold H. Gordon, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis, said the organization plans to appeal to member congregations to create a fund which can provide money to desecrated and damaged yeshivas or synagogues. It will also appeal for Torahs and other items to replaced those burned.

Principal and founder of the Eastern Parkway Yeshiva is Rabbi Meilach Silber. One of the burned Torahs had been sent by his father to a Polish village to save it from the Nazis. When the Silbers came to America they took it with them. Plans for a funeral for the damaged scrolls, as prescribed by Jewish tradition, were being made.

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