NYC Synagogue Destroyed in Blaze During Holy Week of Passover

A synagogue in Brooklyn went up in flames Thursday morning during the holy week of Passover, officials said.

The fire erupted just after midnight inside the Congregation Kneses Israel of Sea Gate Synagogue on Nautilus Avenue in Sea Gate, fire crews said.

Flames were seen quickly shooting through the roof of the place of worship. Congregant Howard Londner rushed in to save the last Torah.

"The rabbi called me at 12:30 and said, 'Howie, do you know the combination to the safe?'" said Londner. "When I came in, the fire was coming out of the roof." 

Londner secured the Torah and rushed out in the nick of time. Paramedics then took him to the hospital with smoke inhalation. 

No one else was injured as firefighters were quickly able to douse the blaze, but the building couldn't be saved. 

"You have to realize, four years ago, we went through Hurricane Sandy," said Rivkah Brikman, who is married to the rabbi. "We did not build the social hall on the bottom yet. It is very painful for us, because the only thing we had was the upstairs floor, so this is a really big hit for our community again. In a sense, we are homeless." 

The synagogue will have to set up tents at another location to continue celebrating. In the meantime, Londner is happy the Torah was saved.

"This is our history," he said. 

Rabbi Chaim Brikman says the fire started on the roof but it's still unclear what caused it.

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