YORKTOWN — A fire Monday morning gutted the grand rebbe’s summer home on the Kehilath Yakov Pupa Rabbinical Seminary campus in Yorktown.
The fire was reported at 7:15 a.m. in Grand Rebbe Jacob Chazky’s home at 341 Illington Road. No one was using the house, and no one was injured.
The fire started in a boiler room in the rear of the house, possibly because of an electrical malfunction, Yorktown Heights Fire Chief Chet Swirski told The Journal News. Flames engulfed the back of the house when firefighters arrived, he said. About 75 firefighters battled the blaze for two hours before getting it under control, but the house was destroyed. A cause-and-origin team was trying to determine the cause.
More than 100 students and about a dozen staff members were in the campus’ synagogue studying when they smelled smoke. When they went outside, they saw the house on fire.
Hereby Menczer, 17, a student, said he was relieved no one was inside.
He said he was not upset.
“Everything is from God. He’s doing the best for us. A lot of times, he sends us a message; we have to be better,” Mencer said.
Chazky and his family use the house in the summer, and his wife and grandchildren come on weekends. It’s also occasionally used for prayers.
The seminary is on a 100-plus-acre campus and includes dormitories for up to 130 16- to 21-year-old rabbinical students. The group is based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where Chazky’s main home is, and has owned the Yorktown property for about 30 years. The vast majority of its students are from Brooklyn.
The campus was the scene of a tragedy on June 26, 2004, when a 21/2-year-old Brooklyn boy, Amrom Ganzfried, drowned in a pond while his family was attending religious services. He had gone out with an older brother and cousin and was not with them when they returned.