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Jewish Center in Florida Targeted by Arsonist

Arson struck the Chabad Jewish Center in Las Olas, Florida over Shabbos after a transient man torched a vehicle outside the Chabad Center and damaged the building.

Home of Friendship Circle Life Skills Program, the building also houses a Shul run by Rabbi Chaim and Chaya Mushka Slavaticki, and is home to a holocaust Sefer Torah.

According to reports, Fort Lauderdale Police responded to the center Shabbos morning for a vehicle that caused damage to the building, when they arrived they found that the vehicle in question was the Rabbi’s wife’s minivan, which had been intentionally set on fire.

Video surveillance of the incident shows a man as he lit the van, parked behind the building, on fire in the early hours of Shabbos morning, and attempted to do the same to the building but initially failed. Later, the fire from the van spread to the building and severely damaged the building’s kitchen. Smoke from the fire also permeated the entire building.

The building is used constantly as part of programs run by the Friendship Circle, including five times a week social programs, job training program, and the Friendship Grill. The damage of the building, especially the kitchen, is a huge loss for the center.

Rabbi Chaim Slavatiki spoke with JewishMiami.info and pointed out a miracle from the incident. The van targeted in the arson was completely burned, but a siddur that had been stashed between two seats in the vehicle was found miraculously undamaged.

The police investigation quickly bore fruit, and Scott Hannaford, a transient resident of Fort Lauderdale, was arrested for the arson. Hannaford is charged with two counts of arson, criminal mischief, and possession of cocaine, but will not face charges of Hate Crime.

According to reports, the man suffers from mental illness and has had to be removed from the property in the past.

Source: https://crownheights.info/chabad-news/858191/chabad-center-in-las-olas-florida-damaged-by-arson-over-shabbos/