Rabbi Mikie Goldstein’s writes a riveting first-hand account of the fire that broke out at kehillah Adat Shalom-Emanuel and what will be needed to restore the kehillah. Rabbi Goldstein first told his story to former chair of the Masorti Foundation, Rabbi Robert Slosberg, and we share it here, very lightly edited. Pictured above is this lovely kehillah before the fire damage.
” On Motza’ei Shabbat on June 22, a fire broke out at our kehillah Adat Shalom-Emanuel. Shortly before midnight, neighbors saw flames coming from the upper floor of the kehillah where the sanctuary is situated and firefighters were called. Shortly after, kehillah members were alerted and a few of us arrived, just as the fire had been put out.
Everything was completely burnt up. Below, the wood paneling was also burnt and stripped off by the firefighters. Window panes were broken and the whole of the shul was covered in soot. A fire investigator ruled out foul play – which is a relief – but was unable to ascertain the cause of the fire. Pictured below is some of the damage.
We are thankful that it happened when nobody was on the premises and that none of our three Sifrei Torah were damaged. Some of the siddurim and humashim have water damage from when the fire was put out and all are covered in various amounts of soot.
Looking ahead to the work that needs to be done, we already know that the lowered ceiling will need to be gutted and rebuilt. One side of the sanctuary has sliding doors (which we open to enlarge the space) – these will have to be replaced. The six-month old bookshelf at the entrance is completely charred at the top. We hope to have a plan for the restoration of the shul shortly.
Our main challenge right now is to find a suitable site for holding services this Shabbat. As usual, we have a bat mitzvah this Shabbat – and the next. Finding a place is not so easy. Most suitable halls are connected somehow to the municipality. Although people wish to help, they feel that their hands are tied because we are a Masorti kehillah. Who will allow them to open on Shabbat for us? We are looking into various options and hope to be successful by tomorrow evening – especially for the bat mitzvah family, who are already most anxious about what their Simchah will look like.
Since Motz’aei Shabbat we have been enveloped by the love and support from the Masorti Movement and friends. It is heartwarming to know that, in our time of need, friends in Rehovot and beyond are looking to help in any way they can. The moral support, by phone, email, WhatsApp, Facebook and other platforms, is very encouraging.
I hope to let you know soon how we’re getting along.”
To help restore Adat Shalom-Emanuel, click here.