Fire Destroys Chabad Shul in Louisville

The burned hull of the Chabad of Kentucky shul in Louisville. (Chabad of Kentucky)

The Jewish community of Louisville, Kentucky suffered a massive loss over the last days of Pesach, as the local Chabad house was destroyed in a fire, the cause of which has yet to be determined. Nobody was injured, with the exception of people on-site who needed to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Early Shabbos morning, at around 5:00 a.m., smoke was seen coming from the house adjacent to the shul, in what was determined by the fire department to be a grease fire in the kitchen of the shul’s neighbors. After extinguishing it, the fire department said that it was safe to re-enter, but out of an abundance of caution, sifrei Torah were removed, and tefilos were moved to the nearby home of Rabbi Avrohom Litvin, Rav of Chabad of Kentucky.

Davening was interrupted at around 12:00 p.m. when smoke was once again seen from the shul.  The rabbis and congregants rushed to the scene, but the shul had unfortunately collapsed very quickly, leaving only a shell. Due to the unusually fast destruction, Metro Arson launched an investigation in conjunction with ATF, to explore the possibility of foul play.

“In regards to the investigation, we don’t understand how the fire started and we’re waiting to hear back from the authorities to see what happened.” Rabbi Shmully Litvin, Director of Education at Chabad of Kentucky told Hamodia. “Nothing’s been ruled out.”

The shul is home to many community activities, including communal Shabbos meals.

“We’re obviously not going to let this stop us.” Said Rabbi Litvin. “We’re going to have a renaissance. We’re going to continue all of our minyanim and classes. The next minyan will be Shabbos and we will continue to serve the community to build bigger and better.”

“For so many, we did not just lose our place of prayer, but our place of peace, community, and belonging,” said Rabbi Avrohom Litvin, Regional Director of Chabad of Kentucky.

Six pairs of tefillin were r”l destroyed, but two survived – and were placed on the heads and arms of two unaffiliated Jewish men who had come to pay their respects to the shul Sunday morning.

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