Rockland Hasidic leaders hope to salvage sacred Torah scrolls after fire destroys synagogue

News 12 was there as the sacred Torah scrolls were removed from the rubble, with the congregation looking on in anticipation.

Ben Nandy

Apr 17, 2024, 11:14 AM

Updated 31 days ago


Members of a Rockland County synagogue are praying they will be able to salvage special religious documents after a fire destroyed their place of worship in Pomona.
News 12 was there as the sacred Torah scrolls were removed from the rubble, with the congregation looking on in anticipation.
Contractors first pulled a safe from what was left of Chassidim of 110, a Hasidic synagogue on North Ridge Road.
Then, a crew from Chaverim EMS of Rockland used heavy duty tools to open the safe to retrieve the scrolls inside.
Raw video from fire
Officials said a worshipper arrived to the synagogue at about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday to find the building on fire, mainly on the right side before it was fully enveloped.
Everything – including the safe – fell into the basement as the inside of the building collapsed.
"It was very waterlogged," said Steven Goldenberg of Chaverim EMS, "heavy and had bolts from all three sides."
The Chaverim team then carefully bagged the scrolls for transport to a local expert who will figure out whether and/or how the scrolls can be repaired.
News 12's Lisa LaRocca's Wednesday morning story on the Pomona shul fire.
"It's a sad sight to hold them in a bag and not know what its condition is currently at," David Goldenberg, of Chaverim said. "We have to hope and pray that we can actually get it restored."
Local police, firefighters and the New York State Bureau of Criminal Investigation were on site most of Wednesday.
They said they are looking into where the fire started, how it started and whether it might have been set on purpose.
"Our detectives are working along with the Rockland County Sheriff's Department's arson unit to try to figure out a point of origin and what could have possibly caused this," Haverstraw Police Capt. John Gould Jr. said, "but it's going to take some time. As you can see, there's a lot of rubble and debris that they have to sift through."
Meantime, the congregation and the EMS crew who extracted the scrolls can only wait.
"We have to see how it looks like," said Chaverim EMS technician Joseph Margaretten. "Hopefully we'll be able to dry it out. But as of now, I have no idea what it looks like."
Congregants said that if the expert finds that the scrolls have been damaged beyond repair, the scrolls will be buried in accordance with Jewish law and tradition.

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