California Wildfires Damage Shuls, Camps, School

12 Nov 2018

The fires raging across Southern California, which have led to the evacuation of more than 260,000 people, have also destroyed more than 170 homes and damaged several Jewish institutions, including synagogues and the Ilan Ramon Day School in Agoura. Head of school Yuri Hronsky wrote Friday on Facebook, “Our school is about heart and soul, not about brick and mortar. I wish I had better news to share as we enter Shabbat this evening.”

The fire also reached the Shalom Institute, a camp and conference center in the Malibu mountains. The staff, animals and Torah scrolls located on the institute’s campus were safely evacuated on Friday, according to a message signed by president Gil Breakman and executive director Rabbi Bill Kaplan of the Shalom Institute and director Joel Charnick of Camp JCA Shalom.

Similarly, “at least some structures” were destroyed at Camp Hess Kramer, a camp owned by the Wilshire Boulevard Temple. The camp’s Torah scrolls were likewise evacuated ahead of the fire.

The 175 member families of the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue were evacuated. Their Torah scrolls were removed to the Kehillat Israel synagogue in Pacific Palisades, which also hosted a bar mitzvah that had been scheduled for the the Malibu Jewish Center.

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