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Suspicious Fires Are Terrorizing A Massachusetts Jewish Community

A rabbi reported two fires at his home in a Boston suburb. Nearby, a Chabad center was also targeted.

Police in Massachusetts said they believe fires that have appeared twice at a rabbi’s home and once at a Chabad center nearby were intentionally set.

Rabbi Avi Bukiet of the Chabad Center for Jewish Life contacted police last Saturday and Thursday after fires broke out at the center, which is also his home, in Arlington, The Boston Globe reported.

“The community has been rallying around us this entire week,” Bukiet told the publication.

Arlington police told The Associated Press that the first small fire was set on the home’s exterior wood shingles, which someone was able to put out with a fire extinguisher. Firefighters then put out a shingle fire just days later at the home.

Surveillance video outside the home of Rabbi Avi Bukiet shows a suspicious person walking by.
Surveillance video outside the home of Rabbi Avi Bukiet shows a suspicious person walking by.

In the nearby town of Needham, police were dispatched to Chabad Jewish Center the same night as the second shingle fire to put out a fire that was set to the siding of the building. The Needham Police Department stopped short of saying the fire in Needham is connected to the ones in Arlington but said it is investigating it as a hate crime.

“Our family lives here, so that’s what makes it even more frightening,” Bukiet told the Globe of the shingle fires. “The fact that this person is not just targeting a [Jewish] center, but knowing there’s children inside, makes it even more alarming.”

Surveillance video outside Bukiet’s home shows a person walking past with a hood on and holding a bag. Arlington police have stationed a full-time detail officer at the home, according to CBS Boston.

The FBI; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Massachusetts State Police; and State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey’s office are all assisting with the investigation, according to WHDH.

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