A woman, Kimorah Parker, is in custody on arson charges after New Britain Police said she intentionally set fires to a synagogue and a church in the city.
Flowers now sit outside Congregation Tephereth Israel in New Britain after police said Parker set it on Friday — before hitting two other churches less than a mile away.
The StopAntisemitism watchdog group tweeted the event was “Horrifying”.
Michelle Joyce, longtime member of Congregation Tephereth Israel, had been going to the synagogue since she was little, as her grandfather was a founding member. She remembered all the people who used to go there and where they sat, noting that it was always packed with a big crowd.
Now, the place where she celebrated the Jewish holidays is boarded up. “Looking at the damage is just hard,” Joyce said.
Police said that a woman set the synagogue and St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church on Friday and then broke into St. Joseph Church. This all happened within the span of one hour. No one was injured during the fires and break-in.
Investigators charged Parker with arson and burglary in connection to the two incidents.
Pastor Mark Valigorsky of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church said authorities told him Parker got into the church by throwing one of their planters at the front window. Valigorsky noted, “it is a hate crime, if you will, that someone would do this.”
Valigorsky said Parker Parker put items on the stove, turned it on, lit it, and then “apparently got out of the building as fast as possible.”
At the church, damage is minimal, but will take time to repair. As for the synagogue, an engineer will have to determine whether or not it’s safe to rebuild.
“It means a lot to me, this building means a lot to me,” Joyce said. “We grew up here, I brought my children here, it means an awful lot to me, so my hope is that they will be able to restore it.”
The synagogue is on the National Register of Historic Places. Joyce said the most important thing is the torahs weren’t inside the building when the fire happened.