Ten sifrei Torah went up in flames on Tuesday night in Beit Knesset Shafat Revivim in Netanyah.
B’chasdei Shamayim, no one was injured.
Firefighters responded to the alarm some time after midnight, and found the whole building on fire.
Five of the sifrei Torah were completely destroyed, despite courageous efforts by firefighters to reach the aron kodesh and save them. Bystanders watched in horror and some wept at the scene. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said the commander of the firefighting unit. “As a Jew, I couldn’t bear to see the scrolls burnt and water- logged.”
One of the gabba’im wept and told reporters that some of the sifrei Torah were particularly valuable. Some were new, purchased with small donations.
Another gabbai collapsed at the scene and was taken to Laniado hospital in Netanya.
The pain was compounded by the discovery that the fire was not an accident, but the result of arson committed by a thief who had entered the building, taken tzedakah boxes, then poured out benzine and set it alight.
On Tuesday, police arrested a 20-year-old resident of Netanyah suspected of causing the fire.
Preparations were being made for the burial on Sunday of the sifrei Torah that were burnt beyond repair.