Boston-area kosher butcher shuttered after fire causes some $500,000 in damages


BOSTON (JTA) – A fire has shuttered a major kosher supermarket in a heavily Jewish Boston-area town and caused an estimated half-million dollars in damages.

The cause of Tuesday afternoon’s fire at The Butcherie in suburban Brookline, Massachusetts, was the careless disposal of a cigarette behind the shop, in a storage area that was used mostly for paper products, the Boston Globe reported. The Butcherie has pledged to reopen.

No one was injured in the blaze, which was quickly extinguished. The fire caused between $400,000 and $500,000 in damages — mostly from smoke contamination of perishable items — according to a preliminary estimate from a fire department official. A home next door also was damaged.

The heaviest damage was in the kitchen area, owner Walter Gelerman told the Globe. The retail section in the front was largely undamaged.

Gelerman said he hopes to reopen the retail section by Monday, but the kitchen will have to be entirely rebuilt, he said.

One local store and the Young Israel of Brookline synagogue have offered kitchen space, Gelerman told the Globe.

Opened in 1972, the family-owned business is also a deli and caterer, and sells a full range of kosher products including meats, poultry, dairy, baked goods, wine, groceries and many products from Israel.

Denice Goguen, director of catering for the market, answered the company phone remotely Wednesday afternoon and told JTA that the shop is awaiting word from the health department about what might be salvageable. Customers have been calling to express support, she said.

“It’s a close-knit community. They’re asking if everyone’s OK. Then they want to know if there’s a plan” to reopen, Goguen said. The shop also does some wholesale business for other caterers, she said.

Miriam Natan Creighton, a longtime Butcherie customer who works at the nearby Israel Book Shop, noted that kosher meat is sold in nearby supermarkets, including Trader Joe’s, but families who follow glatt kosher rules, which are more stringent, will not buy their meat there. The temporary closing, ahead of Shabbat, will be disruptive for many families, she said.

Natan Creighton said the market is an important institution for Jews well beyond the local community.

“You meet people from all corners of the world,” she said. “Visitors from Israel come. There are specialty foods. I see Arab people shopping there. It’s an important place and we love it. We all hope it reopens soon.”

After the fire was extinguished, Natan Creighton walked over to offer her support and was able to get a look inside the market with two of its owners.

“It was devastating to see. It was so sad,” she said.

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