Investigation underway into fire at historic Lower East Side synagogue

Adjust Comment Print

The FDNY would not confirm Boyce's comments, but said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

The Anti-Defamation League is weighing in on the reportedly massive fire that erupted at a historic Manhattan synagogue Sunday night.

A top NYPD official said today that the devastating fire at the Beth Hamedrash Hagadol Synagogue on Sunday is believed to be arson.

The 3-alarm fire broke out at 7 p.m. on Sunday and it took almost two hours to bring the flames under control. Almost 140 firefighters battled to bring the blaze under control for about five hours, from shortly after midnight.

Local residents told the New York Post that the first blaze broke out inside the vacant building, but the paper said it could not confirm the report. The building was built in 1850, originally as a Baptist church, but then sold to a Jewish congregation 35 years later.

The cause of the blaze is now under investigation. The building was declared a city landmark in 1967.

Rabbi Mendel Greenbaum is determined to continue to run at least "somewhat of a congregation" at Beth Hamedrash HaGadol's historic landmark synagogue building.

"They don't make buildings like this anymore, and it's not just the physical beauty, but the prayers that were sung many years ago". The congregation closed the synagogue in 2007 after determining it did not have the $3 million to $4 million needed for repairs.