Boy sets synagogue on fire

A 15-year-old boy played with matches causing the fire that destroyed the synagogue of an anti-Zionist Orthodox Jewish group.

Some synagogue members had claimed that the blaze was set by those opposed to their anti-Israel views. Members of the group, Neturei Karta, routinely burn the Israeli flag, heckle marchers in Israel Day parades and pray for the end of the Jewish state. A few members prompted outrage when they traveled to Iran to participate in a Holocaust-denial conference.

The boy was charged with criminal mischief and referred to Family Court in the April 1 fire that wrecked the Congregation Bais Yehudi synagogue in Monsey, said Ramapo police Sgt. John Lynch.

But Lynch said the fire "was not related to all their controversy. It was a congregant playing with matches." He said the boy was inside the century-old synagogue, "recklessly throwing the matches around," when the blaze started.

No one was injured in the fire, which gutted the building.