JCRC Closely Monitoring Fire at Duluth’s Historic Adas Israel Congregation

September 9, 2019 — 4:30 PM

Minneapolis, MN – Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement following today’s press conference at Duluth City Hall:

“The JCRC thanks Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken, Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj, and Mayor Emily Larson for their continued expressions of support for the Twin Ports’ Jewish community.

“We appreciate the swift investigation the Duluth Police Dept., Duluth Fire Dept., and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) are conducting. It should be noted that Adas Israel Congregation was not the target of any previous threats, according to Chief Tusken. There were also no accelerants found in the preliminary inquiry.

“Chief Tusken also stated that his department was interviewing multiple persons of interest in connection with the fire. We trust the thoroughness of this investigation and will remain in close contact with Chief Tusken and other local leaders.

“We are also relieved to learn that eight Torah scrolls were retrieved from the basement of the synagogue. We reiterate our thanks to the Duluth Fire Dept. for their bravery and our gratitude for the speedy recovery of the injured firefighter.”

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September 9, 2019 — 9:45 AM (updated 12:55 PM)

Minneapolis, MN – Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), issued the following statement regarding the fire at Duluth’s historic Adas Israel Congregation:

“The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) is deeply saddened by the devastating fire that appears to have destroyed much of the historic Adas Israel Congregation in downtown Duluth, MN. The Congregation dates back to the late 1800s and the building’s cornerstone was laid in 1901.

“We are in close communication with the leadership of Adas Israel Congregation and law enforcement in the Duluth area. The investigation into this incident is ongoing. Most importantly, we have learned that there are no fatalities connected to the fire at Adas Israel Congregation.

“As of 9:00 a.m., firefighters were still on scene. The Duluth Fire Marshall’s office is investigating the ’cause and origin of the fire.’

“We thank the Duluth Fire Department and the Duluth Police Department for their swift response to this terrible incident. Our thoughts are with the courageous firefighter who was injured by falling debris while responding to the fire.

“As we approach the Jewish High Holy Days, we offer our full support to our fellow Jewish Duluthians. Already this morning, Duluth’s Temple Israel and Chabad of Duluth have generously opened their doors to members of Adas Israel as a temporary prayer and gathering space.

“The Minneapolis and St. Paul Jewish Federations established an emergency fund to support the needs of Adas Israel Congregation. We thank you for your generosity at this difficult moment.”

The JCRC will continue to update this statement as information becomes available.

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As the public affairs voice of the Jewish community, the JCRC fights anti-Semitism and prejudice, advocates for Israel, provides Holocaust education, promotes tolerance and social justice, and builds bridges across the Jewish and broader communities.