Flanked by family and members of his Horodenke beis medrash, an emotional Harav Chanoch Dov Ashkenazi thanked top fire and police officials Wednesday for saving the four sifrei Torah in the blaze that consumed his shul and home two weeks ago.
Speaking at the Misaskim headquarters in Boro Park, the Horodenke Rav said he was apologizing for not remembering names and that his broken English did not allow him to use the most profuse language to convey his gratitude, but he thanked Salvatore Cassano, the city’s fire commissioner, “from the deepest part of my heart.”
The fire that tore through the three-story building in Flatbush on Apr. 4 destroyed both the ground floor shul and the Rav’s residence on the upper floors. The shul has since temporarily relocated to a storefront and is in the midst of a fundraising campaign to rebuild. They had no insurance on the building.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, although the assumption is that something caught onto the candle burning atop the chazzan’s shtender.
Also honored were James Leonard, the Brooklyn South fire chief, Peter Chan, police chief of Brooklyn South, and Inspector Eric Rodriguez of the 70th precinct.
Noting the unique requirements of the Jewish community — such as Lag BaOmer bonfires and Erev Pesach chametz burnings — Councilman David Greenfield said that the heroism displayed when the firefighters went into the burning building was a testament to the “sensitivities” shown year round by New York’s police and fire department.
The event was chaired by Misaskim founder and president Yanky Meyer.