Hasidic Owners Cleared in 2012 Philadelphia Factory Blaze That Killed 2 Firefighters

No Charges Against Michael and Nahman Lichtenstein

By Michael Kaplan

Published February 03, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A Philadelphia grand jury has decided not to bring criminal charges against the Hasidic owners of an abandoned factory that burned down in Philadelphia in April 2012, causing the deaths of two firefighters.

District Attorney Seth Williams announced that an investigation failed to produce sufficient evidence of guilt against Michael and Nahman Lichtenstein, members of a prominent Brooklyn-based family that also owns the popular Haredi newspaper Hamodia.

“We’re all frustrated, we wish there was something that we can do to give the firefighters and the Neary family and the Sweeney family closure,” Williams was quoted saying in the Philadelphia City Paper.

Nahman and Michael Lichtenstein reportedly own about 30 other properties throughout Philadelphia, many of them vacant.

Though vindicating them of guilt, the grand jury’s report was reportedly critical of the two owners, whose negligence allegedly turned the vacant structure into “a firetrap.”

The report further criticized the Department of Licenses and Inspections and other government agencies for failing to hold the Lichtensteins accountable for safety issues in the lead-up to the fire.

“Licenses and Inspections…needs to have a thorough and complete review, from top to bottom,” Williams said according to the City Paper.

The investigation ultimately failed to produce an exact cause or source of the blaze.

“We can’t just charge people because we have a bad taste in our mouths or we’re angry,” Philly.com quoted Williams saying. “We are bound by the law.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • Aperitif Cocktail, Tequila Shot, Tom Collins or Vodka Soda — Which son do you relate to?
  • Elvis craved bacon on tour. Michael Jackson craved matzo ball soup. We've got the recipe.
  • This is the face of hatred.
  • What could be wrong with a bunch of guys kicking back with a steak and a couple of beers and talking about the Seder? Try everything. #ManSeder
  • BREAKING: Smirking killer singled out Jews for death in suburban Kansas City rampage. 3 die in bloody rampage at JCC and retirement home.
  • Real exodus? For Mimi Minsky, it's screaming kids and demanding hubby on way down to Miami, not matzo in the desert.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.