NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Brooklyn community is in shock after a fire ripped through a synagogue overnight in the middle of the Passover holiday.

The fire was reported just after midnight at the Congregation Kneses Israel of Sea-Gate on Nautilus Avenue.

Cell phone video captured the flames shooting out of the roof.

“It was blazing up and it just looked real bad,” Sea-Gate resident Steven Geykhman said. “This is definitely a big part of the community and it really hurts us.”

“You feel empty and helpless,” said congregation member Aaron Schneiderman. “I’ve been here 30 years and prayed here for 30 years and to see this is like heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching and very disappointing.”

It took firefighters more than two hours to bring the blaze under control.

By the time it was out, 100 years of history had been destroyed.

“The fire took the main sanctuary and basically the building is gone,” Rabbi Chaim Brikman, who has led the members of the congregation for the last 25 years, told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell.

No one was inside or seriously hurt, and the rabbi said the sacred Torah scrolls were all removed.

“It’s very difficult because on a holidays we have lots of programs going on, many many people come and it’s a festive time, lots of services, lots of get-togethers and this has certainly altered all our plans,” Brikman said. “We are going to rebuild, that is absolute.”

Members of the congregation say the wiring inside the synagogue was extremely old. The fire marshal is focusing the investigation on the roof of the building as they try to determine what ignited the flames.


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