Amid rising anti-Semitism, a synagogue burns in Manhattan

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

CREDIT: Screenshot from YouTube, via THEMAJESTIRIUM1
CREDIT: Screenshot from YouTube, via THEMAJESTIRIUM1

A historic synagogue in Manhattan’s Lowest East Side went up in flames over the weekend, possibly heightening anxiety among American Jews as they continue to wrestle with an uptick in anti-Semitism.

According to NBC New York, the 120-year-old historic Congregation Beth Hamedrash Hagadol succumbed to a three-alarm blaze that erupted at around 7:00 p.m. Sunday evening, burning late into the night. The 19th century synagogue once served as the oldest worship space for orthodox Russian Jews in the country, but has been vacant since 2007.

Representatives from the New York Fire Department told ThinkProgress the cause of the fire remains under investigation, and it is unclear if the building was subject to arson or set aflame in another fashion. According to the Forward, the same building was also subject to a small blaze inside the walls earlier last week.


Although the cause of fire is unknown, the incident will likely heighten concerns among American Jews still reeling from a sharp uptick in anti-Semitism over the past year. An April report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) concluded that 541 anti-Semitic incidents have occurred so far 2017, an 86 percent increase compared to the same time period in 2016.

ThinkProgress conducted its own assessment of hate incidents across the country earlier this year, beginning with Trump’s election and ending in early February. Our report found that Jewish groups were disproportionately impacted by acts of hate, including attacks on Jewish houses of worship.