NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A menorah that was found burning outside a Jewish religious center in Brooklyn may have caught fire by accident.
Authorities have been investigating the blaze in Kensington that broke out hours before Rosh Hashanah was to begin.
It happened at the Chabbad Lubavitch of Kensington religious center early Wednesday morning. When firefighters arrived, they found the 5 by 3 foot menorah in flames.
The religious center has been vacant for months and is currently undergoing renovations. Many in the community believed someone targeted the menorah intentionally.
“Feel very bad because it happened during a holiday,” nearby resident Mendel Roet told CBS 2′s Weijia Jiang. “Feel very sad, still people here who don’t like us.”
“Words can’t describe it,” another man said. “It’s very disappointing.”
The NYPD’s hate crime unit and the FDNY arson squad are investigating, but a fire department spokesman said the fire does not appear to be suspicious, 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.
Investigators are now checking to see if a lit cigarette tossed into a nearby dumpster actually sparked the flames, Jiang reported.
Many are hoping the fire was an accident and not an act of intolerance during a holy time of year.
Rosh Hashanah began at sundown Wednesday night, marking the start of the Jewish new year. Yom Kippur, known as the day of atonement, begins next week.
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