North Miami Beach, Fla.'s, Skylake Synagogue sustained heavy fire and smoke damage last week when its kitchen went up in flames. Children were learning upstairs in the Hebrew School at the time, but according to synagogue Rabbi Rafi Rosenberg, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Skylake, everyone made it out of the building in time.

Local news reports showed firefighters assisting Rosenberg in rescuing the shul's four priceless Torah scrolls. But the rabbi said on Tuesday that the sacred items had absorbed a lot of smoke, and are now being assessed by a scribe.

A new library was a total loss, he detailed, including the synagogue's new chairs and prayer books, as well as all of the center's office equipment. What wasn't destroyed, he elaborated, was covered in a thick film of soot.


The shul's prized stained-glass windows had to be destroyed by firefighters ventilating the building.

Rosenberg said that services will now be held at his home for the time being. He vowed that the congregation would rebuild.

While the synagogue negotiates with their insurance company, it's getting by on an emergency fund. Rosenberg estimated the damages at well in excess of half a million dollars.

"We told the community that we're not going to be satisfied just to rebuild," Rosenberg said this week. "Instead, we're going to start a building project of some sort."

Interviewed shortly after the tragedy by WPLG, the local ABC television network affiliate, the rabbi exuded optimism.

"When something like this happens, we've got to make it twice as good as it was, so that's what we're going to do," he said. "There's going to be a miracle that comes out of this. I'm really confident."