Several Jewish Institutions Burned By Fires Racing Through California

Synagogues, schools, and community centers offer support for community members touched by tragedy, as they seek to rebuild their own damaged buildings

The fires racing through southern California have burned over 83,000 acres, led to the evacuation of more than 260,000 people, destroyed more than 170 homes, and damaged several Jewish institutions.

The Jewish institutions, including several synagogues, turned to their social media pages to distribute information, and to offer support. Some 175 families of the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue were evacuated from their homes as was the synagogue. On Saturday, the synagogue posted on its Facebook page that the building remained unharmed. The synagogue’s Torah scrolls had been removed a day earlier as a precaution to the Kehillat Israel synagogue in Pacific Palisades, which played host to a bar mitzvah that had been scheduled for the the Malibu Jewish center. The family of the bar mitzvah invited the entire congregation to gather at the synagogue and celebrate with them.

In a message titled “We are here for you” posted on Friday on the website of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, federation CEO Jay Sanderson, wrote: “The past few weeks have tested our strength and resolve as a community and a nation.”

“I want to assure you that we are doing all we can to help our community as this natural disaster affects our Jewish institutions and homes,” he also wrote.

Mandatory evacuation orders were issued on Friday for families and institutions in Calabasas, Malibu and Thousand Oaks.

Strong winds were forecast to pick up in the area on Sunday, which combined with little moisture in the air and extremely dry ground from months of drought could cause the fires to continue to spread, according to Accu-Weather.