Chabad House FSU Rabbi focused on ‘brighter future’ five months after massive fire

Chabad House FSU Rabbi focused on ‘brighter future’ five months after massive fire
Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 6:03 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2022 at 6:40 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Jewish Community at FSU is coming together to observe the High Holy days without their synagogue.

A fire destroyed Chabad House five months ago, leaving only charred remains behind. Investigators determined the cause to be accidental.

However Rabbi Schneur Oirechman and his congregation aren’t letting that stop them from marking Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Tuesday morning, the Rabbi worked to prepare a white event tent currently set up in his front yard. It serves as a makeshift worship center for the holidays, as well as for Friday night meals.

“It’s been quite a challenging year,” he said.

There’s no better symbol of that challenge than the Torah scrolls currently on loan to the congregation, as scribes work to write new, permanent scrolls.

WCTV cameras were rolling as the Rabbi retrieved his Torah scrolls following the early May fire. They were damaged beyond repair.

”Why did God do it?,” he asked. “I said, he must have done it so we can build bigger and better. He gave us a push. We have no choice.”

Service wasn’t interrupted for long. Trailers are now set up in the shadow of the wreckage, and a multimillion dollar rebuild is in the works.

“A big Jewish community center that will serve the community. Will be much better than we ever had before,” the Rabbi said.

As the future comes into focus, students like FSU Senior Joshua Belenke appreciate the work of those making sure the lights stay on.

“Even though the Chabad house burned down, we still have the Rabbi here who has been wonderful in helping provide for all our students’ Jewish needs,” he said.

As he finished his final preparations ahead of Yom Kippur Tuesday, the Rabbi said he was thankful.

“We don’t spend time crying on the past. From the beginning, the focus was on a brighter future,” he said.