Fire seriously damages Sydney synagogue


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — A fire severely damaged a synagogue in Sydney on the first night of Rosh Hashanah.

Seven fire trucks were required to extinguish the late-night blaze at Kehillat Masada in northern Sydney on Sept. 28.

Officers from Fire and Rescue New South Wales rescued the Torah scrolls from the path of the flames and saved the sanctuary after about three hours of firefighting.

The police forensic unit believes the blaze, which began in the kitchen area, was accidental.

Kehillat Masada, which has a membership of 450 families, is located within the campus of Masada College, a large Jewish school. The high school library also was affected and many members lost prayer books and other religious possessions in the blaze.

School principal Wendy Barel and synagogue president Trevor Lorge said in a joint statement that they were devastated by “so much damage and destruction.”

“The most important thing is that no one was hurt or injured, and that it took place after the premises had been vacated from a very busy first night of Rosh Hashanah services,” they said.

Members dispersed to other nearby synagogues for the remainder of the holiday.

The synagogue board is looking at options for Yom Kippur services, including hiring a local hall.

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