Fires were set outside two Chabad centers in Massachusetts on Thursday night, causing minor damage to both. A small fire had been set outside one of the centers only five days beforehand.

One fire was set at the Chabad Jewish Center in Needham, Mass., which also serves as the residence for the rabbi and his family, in what appears to be an intentional blaze.

“Thank G‑d, I picked up the smell of fire before anyone else in my house ever smelled it,” said Chanie Krinsky, who co-directs the center with her husband, Rabbi Mendy Krinsky. “Thank G‑d, Mendy was outside with the fire extinguisher before the smoke alarms even went off. I woke my kids and jumped into the car and turned on the heat for them. Hashem has really been watching over us, and the only damage was outside to some shingles.”

Right around the same time, 11 miles north at the other end of the Boston metropolitan area, a fire was set at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Arlington, co-directed by Rabbi Avi and Luna Bukiet. It was the second time that the center, which also includes a prayer space, Hebrew school and rabbi’s residence, had been targeted in a five-day span.

“We had Hebrew school as usual on Thursday afternoon,” Luna Bukiet told “As a precaution, we had a plainclothes officer outside. He went home, and around 9 p.m., I was sitting and reading, and I smelled smoke through an open window.”

Bukiet says the smell was especially strong because of plastic wrap that was covering damage from the first fire. She called 911, and she and her husband removed the children from their home even before the fire alarms went off.”

The Chabad Jewish Center in Needham, Mass. (File photo)
The Chabad Jewish Center in Needham, Mass. (File photo)

Despite the ordeal they have been through, Bukiet says that Shabbat services will go on as usual, and both Krinsky and Bukiet expressed their gratitude to local law enforcement and fire departments, which have been supportive and are working on solving what appears to be a string of arson incidents.

Even as Krinsky noted that the development is “extremely unsettling,” her message was a positive call to action: “Hate can’t be reasoned with. Hate just needs to be eradicated. A little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness. Please take this opportunity to help us end this darkness. Do a mitzvah today to bring more light into this world! Tonight we will usher in the Shabbos with our candles, our opportunity to add more light. Please join me and make your home a home with more light.”