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Fire Destroys Synagogue, Damage Estimated at $1 Million

January 20, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

An early morning fire described by fire department officials as of “suspicious origin” devastated a traditional synagogue in the north-west suburban community of West Blumfield yesterday. No one was injured in the blaze which left but a skeleton of the structure standing. Damage was estimated at $1 million.

The fire, which was reported shortly after midnight, occurred after the Congregation Beth Abraham Hillel Moses’s weekly bingo night. The president of the congregation, Nat Fishman, was quoted as saying that the custodian and security person on patrol that evening made rounds between 11:30 and 11:45 Monday evening and “found everything in order.”

Fire department officials said the intensity and suddenness of the blaze gave them reason to suspect foul play was involved in the fire, but there was no immediate evidence that it was arson. According to one report, several damaged Torah scrolls were saved by the synagogue’s rabbi, A. Irving Schnipper.

The synagogue has a membership of 600 families. The Congregation Beth Abraham Hillel Moses was established as a result of the merger of three previously independent synagogues: the Beth Abraham, founded in 1892, which merged with Congregation Hillel in 1971, and together in 1975 merged with Congregation Beth Moses. The adjoining Hebrew day school was not damaged by the fire.

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