Brooklyn synagogue fire leaves rabbi, 4 others hospitalized day after daughter’s wedding – New York Daily News

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A joyous weekend for a Brooklyn rabbi’s family turned into tragedy early Friday when a fire broke at his synagogue, leaving them trapped by a third-floor window ledge, fighting for their lives, FDNY officials and congregants said.

Rabbi Avrhom Horowitz, his wife, and son were among the five people hospitalized, two critically, as the fire broke out about 6:15 a.m. on the second floor of the 60th St. building — home of the Darkei Chaim Stavnits synagogue —  near 19th Ave. in Bensonhurst, FDNY officials said.

The three-story building has the Orthodox synagogue on the first floor, while Horowitz and his family live in apartments on the upper floors.

The fire broke out on the second floor of the 60th St. building, home of the Darkei Chaim Stavnits synagogue, FDNY officials said. (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)

Horowitz and his family celebrated the wedding of one of his daughters Thursday night and went to bed just a few hours before the fire broke out in the kitchen, friends and neighbors said.

The family was planning to continue celebrating the wedding with another party at the synagogue Saturday. Orthodox wedding celebrations can last for a week.

The spiritual leader and at least two family members were seen at a third-floor window screaming for help. Firefighters used a bucket ladder to rescue them from the ledge, witnesses said.

“They were hanging on the ledge of the window. It looked bad,” said Yidel Perlstein, a member of the synagogue and chairman of Community Board 12. “One boy was screaming, ‘I don’t want to die!’ In the time of that situation, you do whatever you can, so they were all hanging on for their lives.”

When firefighters, alerted by an automatic fire alarm, arrived, the blaze had consumed most of the second floor. The fire was put out within an hour.

EMS rushed five people, including Rabbi Horowitz, his wife Esther, and son Hershey, to area hospitals. Neighbors said they believe Horowitz and his son were critically injured in the blaze.

It was unclear how much fire and water damage the synagogue suffered as the fire was extinguished, but Perlstein said the synagogue’s Torahs were not damaged.

Two people were taken to the Hospital in critical condition, including a 13yr od, after a fire broke out inside a Synagogue at 1847 60th Street in Brooklyn on Friday March 29, 2024. 0845. Three additional victims were also taken to the Hospital. (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)

Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News

FDNY Fire Marshals work after a synagogue fire in Brooklyn on Friday. (Theodore Parisienne for New York Daily News)

Fire Marshals later determined that food cooking on the stove sparked the blaze.

The Rabbi’s wife may have left some food on a hot plate for out-of-town relatives due to arrive Friday afternoon as the wedding celebration continued, Perlstein said.

“Never leave cooking food unattended,” the FDNY said on X Friday.

Besides the wedding, Horowitz’s family was celebrating another blessing: the recent birth of a grandchild from another daughter.

“It’s a triple tragedy. They’re going into Shabbat, with a couple that got married, and then you have the other daughter. In the Jewish tradition the name for the child is given at a big celebration on Saturday in the synagogue,” Perlstein said. “It was a joint celebration for the wedding and the birth of the child.”

On Friday morning, the congregation quickly rallied around Horowitz’s family. One synagogue member moved out of his home, donating it to them. Other congregants secured a new venue for the wedding.

“We’re going to get them clothes, we’re going to give them whatever they need,” Perlstein said. “Support is pouring in on an unbelievable level. My message to this family is we’re all here, everybody cares, we’re going to do whatever it takes to fix up the synagogue, put life back where it is, and let’s give the young couple their weekend of festivities.”

Hours after the blaze, a restoration company run by a congregant was already in the synagogue, fixing the damage.

“We move fast,” said the contractor, who would only identify himself as Joel.

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