Globe Briefs October 29

Globe Briefs October 29

Fire at historic New Jersey synagogue believed to be accidental

A fire that destroyed a historic synagogue in New Jersey appears to be accidental, according to a preliminary investigation. The fire on Oct. 23 at the Polie Zedek synagogue in New Brunswick, in the central part of the state, left only the shell of the building and destroyed everything inside, according to local reports.

One of the Torah scrolls was saved by the synagogue’s rabbi, Abraham Mykoff, who raced into the building and carried it out before the ceiling collapsed. The synagogue caretaker, who was in the building when the fire started, called emergency services and safely evacuated the building, according to reports.

The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.

Roads around the synagogue were closed and adjacent buildings evacuated out of fear that the fire would spread. An investigation continues into the cause of the fire, officials said.

Rabbi, two worshippers stabbed outside French synagogue

A rabbi and two of his congregants were stabbed outside a synagogue in Marseilles, France. One of the victims in morning attack on Oct. 24 was stabbed several times in the abdomen and is in serious but not life-threatening condition, the French daily Le Figaro reported.

Police arrested the assailant, who shouted anti-Semitic epithets at the victims and reportedly was drunk at the time of the attack. According to Le Figaro, the assailant is known to local police and is considered mentally unstable.

Marseilles, in southern France, has some 80,000 Jews, making it the second largest Jewish community in the country. Jews make up about 10 percent of the population in the port city, which has about 250,000 Muslims.

Rabbi injured in 2014 Jerusalem synagogue attack dies of his wounds

An Israeli rabbi injured nearly a year ago in a terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue has died of his injures. Thousands of mourners gathered on Oct. 24 for the funeral of Haim Yechiel Rothman, who went by “Howie.” The funeral procession started at the Bnei Torah synagogue in the Har Hof neighborhood, where the attack occurred on Nov. 18 during morning prayers.

His death brings the number killed in the attack by two Palestinian terrorists to six, including a Druze-Israeli police officer who died in a shootout with the assailants.

Rothman, 55, a Toronto native and father of 10, never regained consciousness after the attack, during which he fought the terrorists to prevent them from harming fellow worshippers. The UJA Federation of Greater Toronto raised more than $100,000 to assist the family, which it presented to relatives in January.

Visitors to his hospital room said in recent weeks that Rothman, a dual Canadian-Israeli citizen who immigrated 30 years ago, seemed to be aware of the people around him. His wife, Risa, spent every day at his bedside. In March, one of his sons was married.

The assailants, cousins from eastern Jerusalem, entered the synagogue and rabbinical seminary in western Jerusalem and attacked worshippers with a gun, axes and knives. They were killed in the shootout.

Spanish town fetes name change from Kill Jews Town

A town in northern Spain held an official ceremony to mark its name change from Kill Jews Town.

On Oct. 23, Israel’s ambassador to Madrid, Daniel Kutner, joined representatives from the Jewish and Sephardic communities in Spain for a ceremony during which the town’s new name signs were installed, The Local-Spain reported. The town formerly known as Castrillo Matajudíos returned to its original name, Castrillo Mota de Judios, or Castrillo Jews’ Hill.

In June, the town used Castrillo Mota de Judios in the official state gazette. The name change was approved by the regional government of Castilla y Leon.

Last year, some 50 residents of the town voted for the name change at the suggestion of Mayor Lorenzo Rodriguez, who submitted the proposal to return to the original name. Rodriguez said the name was changed during the Spanish Inquisition in the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

A massacre of Jewish people is believed to have taken place near the town in 1035, while another massacre happened inside the village in 1109, according to The Local.

In parts of Spain, especially in the north, locals use the Spanish term for “killing Jews” to describe the traditional drinking of lemonade spiked with alcohol at festivals held in city squares at Easter, or drinking in general.