After spending the last days of Sukkot in a neighboring town, Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries Rabbi Menachem and Moussia Teichman returned to their Uzhgorod, Ukraine, home only to find it gutted by fire.

Following the recovery of key pieces of evidence, authorities in Ukraine's furthest western region are investigating the destruction as an apparent act of arson. Anti-Semitism has not been ruled out.

The Taichmans, co-directors of the Jewish Community of Uzhgorod, spent the holidays of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah and the following Shabbat in the town of Mukachevo, birthplace of the Munkatch branch of Chasidism. They returned Saturday night to the charred remains of their home, Chabad House, Jewish kindergarten and a recently-finished mikvah.


It was a near total-loss of the second-floor of the property, location of their home, and their belongings.

"We will need to rebuild our entire life," said Moussia Taichman. "Our children are sleeping at a community member's home and we are sleeping elsewhere. It is very hard."

Still, the family rebounded quickly to ensure that the Jewish community didn't suffer. On Monday morning, the Taichmans opened the mikvah and kindergarten on schedule.

According to the city's fire department, the arsonist tried to cause more damage, igniting the blaze next to a gas tank in the home. Unbeknownst to the perpetrator, the line was shut off by the Taichmans when they left earlier in the week.

Both the fire department and the Uzhgorod police department are working closely with the Chabad House in the investigation.

"The activities are continuing here as we wait to hear back from the police," reported Menachem Taichman, who serves as the chief rabbi of the Zakarpattia Oblast, a mountainous region of Ukraine. "We will continue to build here."