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ATF joins investigation into Tallahassee Jewish Center fire

Posted at 7:01 PM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 19:01:06-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — On Monday, Rabbi Schnuer Oirechman and his wife Chana saw the damage to their Jewish Center near Florida State University's campus for the first time since it burned down early Sunday morning.

"All we have to focus on is doing one act of goodness and kindness to make the world a better place, and that's what we're focusing on," said Rabbi Oirechman.

The two were in South Florida Sunday Morning visiting with friends and alumni of the center, unable to do anything hours away from home.

"It's not easy to see a place where we put so much into, just being turned into ashes," said Chana Oirechman.

Fire investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the State Fire Marshall's Office spent Monday scavenging the grounds outside the center to see what may have started the fire.

That fire burned two Torah scrolls, hundreds of books, and religious teachings, along with their kitchen, which was used to provide Kosher Meals to college students.

During this year's eight days of Passover, the center served over 1,000 students and continues to serve over a hundred daily.

Chana says they're still trying to figure out ways to serve their students and community members-- not letting this fire keep them from serving the needs of those who need help.

"We might bring trailers, or we're working on temporary solutions until we find a permanent home," said Chana.

Florida State Student Max James has been coming to the center since the beginning of this year, he says seeing the damage and destruction for the first time was tragic.

"Very heartbreaking. It's where we spend time praying, learning, inspiring each other," said James.

The Legislative Jewish Caucus, which makes up 12 representatives and senators 12 Florida State representatives and senators released a statement on the fire saying in part:

"We stand united in our resolve to see this Jewish Community Center rebuilt better than before, and to further ensure the spirit of the Jewish People will survive and triumph."