Rewards offered for information on arsonist targeting local Jewish centers

Rewards offered for information on arsonist targeting local Jewish centers

NEEDHAM, Mass. — Rewards have been offered for information on the arsonists targeting local Jewish centers.

Officials in Arlington and Needham are investigating arsons and now nearby towns are on high alert.

“Thank God we’re safe," said Rabbi Mendy Krinsky, whose home in Needam is the latest target of suspected arson.

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Krinsky said the fire melted the siding to the home.

"I opened this door, and saw flames. I asked my son to grab the fire extinguisher. We put it out. Thank God it was caught right away," said Krinsky.

In Needham, police are investigating a suspicious fire at a Chabad center. Police and fire responded to a call for a fire outside the Chabad Jewish Center on High Rock Street at around 10 p.m. Thursday.

According to officials, the fire was put out before police and fire arrived to the scene. The fire was set to the lattice and vinyl siding on the side of the building.

"The past two incidents, it has targeted not just a Jewish center, it has targeted our personal family," said Rabbi Avi Bukiet.

The building now has around-the-clock police detail outside for security.

"These are extremely two concerning incidents in which an innocent family has lost the all importance feeling of safety and security that the home is meant to convey," said Arlington Acting Police Chief Julie Flaherty.

The person who reported the fire told police he believes the fire was set intentionally, but the area wasn't immediately treated as a crime scene.

"Every arson fire causes fear and anxiety in the community, but one in a house of worship especially so," said State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey. "There are steps that houses of worship can take to protect themselves from both accidental and intentionally-set fires."

While no threats were made nor did authorities find any graffiti nearby, this incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

In a press conference on Friday, Arlington Police addressed the two suspicious fires set outside a rabbi's home within the span of five days, but at this point, authorities have not linked those fires to the incident in Needham.

The fire is being investigated by Needham Police and Fire, the State Fire Marshal's Office and State Police assigned to the State Fire Marshal's Office.

The Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MA) has offered a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest of the arsonists bringing the total reward up to $21,000 after an early reward was increased to $20,000.

Bukiet's wife, Luna, said these acts bring the entire community together.

“This will not deter us," she said. "If anything we will double down on our efforts to bring more goodness into the world and create a better world for all of our children.”

Over the past decade, there have been a total of 21 arson fires at houses of worship across the state, where targets have included Jewish synagogues, Hindu temples, Muslim mosques and Christian churches.