A fire severely damaged the historic, 167-year-old Beth Hamedrash Hagadol synagogue on Manhattan’s Lower East Side Sunday.
Police sources said three people, believed to be minors, were spotted on surveillance footage fleeing the synagogue as it burst into flames, reported the New York Post. An eyewitness corroborated the report, telling fire officials he saw three people fleeing the synagogue as the fire began.
The synagogue’s Gothic-style building is almost completely destroyed. Holly Kaye, who has worked for several years to preserve the historic synagogue, said she doesn’t believe the fire was the result of a hate crime. Trespassers had repeatedly broken into the site in recent weeks, she noted.
“It seems like it was malicious nonsense from kids playing around,” said Kaye, founder of the Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy.