A fire has ripped through the campus of Chabad-Lubavitch of the Panhandle, in Tallahassee, Fla., gutting the newly renovated building and consuming the Chabad center’s sacred Torah scrolls.

The Tallahassee Fire Department confirmed that firefighters were dispatched to the Chabad center at 3:21 a.m. Sunday morning, May 8. “Crews found fire showing and heavy smoke coming from the eaves,” the fire department wrote in a statement. The cause of the fire, which ravaged the 11,000-square-foot building, is under investigation by the State Fire Marshal’s office.

Chabad-Lubavitch of the Panhandle was established in 2000 and serves the Jewish student population at Florida State University and the general Jewish community in Tallahassee and beyond. Rabbi Schneur Zalman Oirechman, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of the Panhandle with his wife, Chanie, says the loss is devastating.

“The Moris and Lillian Tabacinic Chabad Center served as a center for Jewish life for the last decade of our 23 years serving the Tallahassee Jewish community. It had become a beacon of light, full of the beauty and joy of Jewish life,” Oirechman told Chabad.org.

Noting that nobody was injured, Oirechman says that the fire will not erase the goodness that spread forth from the physical structure. “While that is something no fire can negate, we are now faced with the destruction not only of the building, but of our Torah scrolls, literally hundreds of books, and our kitchen and all our other facilities,” he said.

“Chanie and I are shocked and overwhelmed by this terrible fire,” the rabbi said, declaring that it would not move them from their goal of providing a safe Jewish space for thousands of students and community members. “With G‑d’s help, we will yet build a stronger and brighter future out of the ashes,” he promised.

To assist in the recovery effort go to JewishTallahassee.com/donate

Rabbi Shneur Zalman Oirechman says that the fire will not erase the goodness that spread forth from the physical structure, which he pledges to rebuild.
Rabbi Shneur Zalman Oirechman says that the fire will not erase the goodness that spread forth from the physical structure, which he pledges to rebuild.