(September 16, 2019 / JNS) Police in Duluth, Minn. arrested a man on Friday in connection to an overnight fire last week at a historic synagogue that destroyed the building.
The suspect linked to the fire at Adas Israel Congregation is a 36-year-old Duluth resident with no permanent address. The Duluth police chief said he is familiar with the suspect, and that he has no prior offenses as serious as arson on his record.
The suspect is scheduled to be in court this week, according to officials.
Although police said they have no reason to believe that the fire at Duluth’s oldest-surviving Modern Orthodox Jewish synagogue was a hate crime, they do believe that it was set on purpose.
“It’s good to know and probably ultimately reassuring to the community that this was an act not necessarily out of malice,” said Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.
Firefighters went into the burning synagogue to save some priceless pieces, including multiple Torah scrolls, before the building burned down. One firefighter is still recovering from injuries.
The synagogue’s members are now using community spaces and even some of the members’ homes for services, with leaders saying they might have to find a permanent new site in the city.
Synagogue officials added that they are not asking for donations at this time, so people should be on the lookout for fake fundraisers.
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