As part of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, Massachusetts state and federal law enforcement are investigating three suspicious fires at Jewish institutions in Boston suburbs.
Police in Arlington, Mass., have responded to two cases of such fires over the past week at the home of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries.
Rabbi Avi and Luna Bukiet’s home also serves as the Chabad Center for Jewish Life of Arlington.
On Thursday night, there were “light flames burning shingles on one side” of the house, reported local Fox affiliate WFXT, citing officials. A police officer patrolling the area was at the scene within 30 seconds to get rid of the flames by using a handheld extinguisher.
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That same evening, there was a suspicious fire at the Chabad Jewish Center in Needham, Mass., which state and federal authorities are also investigating.
Chanie Krinsky posted on Facebook that her husband, Rabbi Mendy Krinsky, who directs the Chabad center with her, “was outside with the fire extinguisher before the smoke alarms even went off.”
On Saturday night, Chabad in Arlington caught fire. Police are trying to identify someone caught on video walking away from the house.
“We smelled a lot of smoke,” Bukiet told WFXT. “There was a ton of smoke inside in the basement going up to the first floor.”
Firefighters discovered a small fire “burning on the wood shingles of one side of the home. The fire was quickly extinguished and the damage was minor,” reported WFXT.
Neither incident caused personal injuries or damage inside the home.
In a statement, acting Arlington chief of police Julie Flaherty said that an officer will be present full-time in the area.
“These are extremely concerning incidents in which an innocent family has had the safety and security of their home compromised by some else’s violent actions,” she said.
After the Saturday fire, Bukiet said he had not gotten any threats.
“An unsettling time for everyone, but there’s so much love and so much support that goes around, and at these moments you see people coming to the fore and coming to the surface and really showing how much of a community we are,” he said.
“Somebody out there wants to hurt us. Just because we exist. And that is frightening. Hate can’t be reasoned with. Hate just needs to be eradicated,” said Krinsky in her Facebook post. “A little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness. Please take this opportunity to help us end this darkness. Do a mitzvah today to bring more light into this world!”
According to Chabad.org, Bukiet says Shabbat services will go on as usual. All of the Chabad emissaries involved expressed their gratitude to local law enforcement and fire departments, which have been supportive and are working on solving what appears to be a string of arson incidents.