New Orleans Rabbi’s Home Destroyed When Passover Cleaning Oven Ignites Blaze

A fire caused by an oven during its self-cleaning cycle in preparation for Passover destroyed the home of a New Orleans rabbi.

The fire swept through the home of Rabbi Gabriel Greenberg of the Orthodox Congregation Beth Israel on Tuesday afternoon. No one was injured in the blaze, which caused “substantial” damage, Jefferson Parish East Bank Consolidated Fire Department Chief Joe Greco told The Advocate. An investigation will determine the exact cause of the blaze.

The rabbi and his two young children were in the backyard of the home when the blaze started.

The family’s possessions, including furniture and clothing, suffered fire, heat, smoke and water damage.

“Rebuilding will undoubtedly be a slow and painful process,” synagogue president Bradley Bain said in a statement. “While the extent of the damage has yet to be fully assessed, we do know they will be temporarily uprooted and forever miss the heirlooms, sentimental objects, and mementos consumed in today’s fire.”

Bain called on his congregants to “be diligent in our Pesach preparations, especially when it comes to the self-cleaning cycle of our ovens. Tragedies such as this underscore how quickly our families’ safety and our homes can be put into jeopardy.”

A GoFundMe page called “Help Gabe and Abby” raised more than $13,000 from 161 people in the first two hours it was posted on Wednesday. The page has a goal of $50,000.

Greenberg has served as spiritual leader at Beth Israel since June 2014.


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