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Devestating Fire Destroys Synagogue, 3 Torahs Saved

JudaismBoxingYamim NoraimWPIX

A Rockland County synagogue is now destroyed after a downed power line set off a devastating blaze on its roof Monday evening.

The West Clarkstown Jewish Center in New City was closed and unoccupied when heavy rain and winds from Monday evening's thunderstorm brought down surrounding trees and power lines.

At 9pm, one tree was unable to withstand the powerful storm and was knocked down, taking a power line with it. The cable swung down onto the Jewish Center, and caused flames as high as 20 feet to shoot up from the roof and spread to the rest of the building,

Seventy-five firefighters from at least seven departments arrived on the scene to battle the blaze.

A volunteer firefighter was able to enter the burning building and save three Torahs and several other prayer books.

Herb Boxer, acting president of the Jewish Center, said, "They seem to be in good condition. I commend them for bringing them out in time."

The flames were under control within two hours, but the synagogue sustained extensive fire damage. Congregants who witnessed the fire wondered if their temple can be rebuilt in time for next month's High Holy Days.

But Boxer is optimistic the Jewish Center will recover.

"People who worked in this synagogue put a lot of sweat and tears into it," Boxer said, "It's a shame to see what happened here tonight, but we've come back before and we'll come back again.

The West Clarkstown Jewish Center has a congregation of about 60 families and its leader, Rabbi Ar-yay May-eer, was out of town at the time of the fire.

No serious injuries were reported.

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