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13 Torah Scrolls Damaged, Destroyed in Fire; Hispanic Youth Held

Jewish residents on the Lower East Side, upset by recent violence and the burning of a synagogue Friday, have been assured by city officials and the police department that tactical patrol units and decoy cops would be ordered into the area. The latest act of violence Friday caused widespread anger and charges by some Jewish community leaders that there is a growing anti-Semitic conspiracy. A fire, reported as suspicious, caused extensive damage to a building on Henry Street which houses three Orthodox congregations.

Police managed to save four Torahs and one candelabrum from the building but reportedly as many as 13 other scrolls were damaged or destroyed in the two alarm fire that raged for close to two hours before it was brought under control. Raymond Rivera, 16, of The Bronx, was arrested near the fire by police and after questioning was charged with arson and burglary.

Representatives of various Jewish community groups, many of them rabbis, met Friday with outgoing Deputy Mayor James Cavanagh and other city officials and afterwards met at police head-quarters where they were assured that no efforts would be spared to make certain that such acts were prevented in the future. Referring to the damage and destruction to the Torah scrolls, one Jewish leader said, “This is perhaps one of the most heinous crimes that ever faces the Jewish community.”

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