Having drifted off to sleep on his living-room couch while preparing his sermons Thursday night for Tisha B’Av and Shabbat, Rabbi Raleigh Resnick was awakened at 1 a.m by a phone call from the police. A fire that started outside of Chabad of the Tri-Valley in Pleasanton, Calif., had incinerated the back half of the building, he was told.

“I had been in the building just a few hours earlier, so I knew that no one was there or in any danger,” said Resnick, who co-directs the center with his wife, Fruma. “But when you hear that the building is on fire at one in the morning, the only thing I was thinking about were the Torah scrolls.”

Racing over in his car to the Chabad House, Resnick found emergency workers already at work. The Torah scrolls, along with structure of building, were safe.


“Afterwards, some of the firefighters approached me and asked what were these scrolls that I so urgently wanted to save,” he related. “I shared with them some of the history of the Torah.”

The damage was largely relegated to the rear wall and the roof of the building. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

“Our sages teach that wanton destruction of a sacred space can only come about if it’s in order for a greater structure be raised in its place,” said Resnick. “The community will come together not only to rebuild the destruction, but to construct an even more beautiful edifice in its place.”

The Torah scrolls were spared from the fire.
The Torah scrolls were spared from the fire.