Man Arraigned on Charges of Setting Fire to Rebbi’s Home

Firefighters battling the blaze, June 12. (FDNY)

A Pennsylvania man has been arraigned on charges related to the arson of a Brooklyn Rebbi’s home, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced Monday.

Matthew Karelefsky, 41, of McKeesport, Pennsylvania, was arraigned on first-degree attempted murder, second-degree arson and other charges, as he is alleged to have set fire to the Midwood home of Rabbi Yonasan Max, a Rebbi in Yeshivah Chaim Berlin, on June 13. The fire spread to two adjacent homes as well, causing several injuries, but none serious.

Karelefsky, who has threatened Rabbi Max in the past and written social-media posts expressing his animosity for and intention to harm Rabbi Max, has a tattoo on his forearm that reads, “Never let go of the HATRED – KILL Rabbi Max.”

In a statement, Gonzalez said Karelefsky allegedly travelled to Brooklyn “with the sole intent to kill and had no concern for the dozens of people he deliberately put in harm’s way … I intend to prosecute this case vigorously and hold this defendant accountable for his alleged crimes.”

Karelefsky was ordered held without bail. His next court appearance is scheduled for September 10. If convicted, he faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

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