WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (Aug. 15)
A Conservative synagogue was hit by a suspicious fire early this morning, the second synagogue here to be torched in five days. Both the Emanuel Synagogue this morning and the Young Israel Synagogue last week were hit in pre-down hours.
The fire at Emanuel Synagogue was discovered at 3 a.m. when a barking dog awakened a neighbor, who called the Fire Department. The main damage was to the small sanctuary but some Torah scrolls were destroyed in the main sanctuary. The fire was put out quickly. Calls began to come to the synagogue soon after people learned of the fire, offering money and volunteer aid.
Jeffrey Mines, chairman of the community relations committee of the Greater Hartford Jewish Federation said “We are shocked and horrified at this major act of vandalism within five days in which two synagogues have sustained major damage from fires committed by an arsonist, according to police.”
He added that “we are receiving full and complete cooperation from Governor William O’Neill, appropriate state officials, and the town of West Hartford and its mayor and police officials.”
RECEIVING FULL COMMUNITY SUPPORT
Mines disclosed that a “substantial” reward is being organized, with contributions from the Federation, West Hartford, and the state. He added that “we are receiving full community support and the Federation has full confidence in those empowered to conduct the investigation.”
Mayor Charles Maties said “This is not an attack against the Jewish community but against the entire town of West Hartford and a threat to our American way of life.” He said everything would be done to help the congregation.
The Young Israel fire was reported at 3:30 a.m. last Wednesday, It destroyed many religious articles and prayerbooks, as well as the synagogue’s main halls, but the synagogue’s Torah scrolls suffered only minor damage. As was the case in the Emanuel fire, many West Hartford area residents offered help, as did other local synagogues and churches. Help offers came from individuals in both fires from both non-Jews and Jews.