14-year-old arrested in Norfolk synagogue blaze

post fire cover
Thursday’s New York Post coverage of the arrest of a suspect in Sunday’s fire that destroyed the landmarked Beth Hamedrash Hagadol synagogue on the Lower East Side.

A Lower East Side teenager allegedly sparked the roaring blaze that gutted the historic Beth Hamedrash Hagodol synagogue on Norfolk this past Sunday, it was reported Thursday.

According to the New York Post, David Diaz, 14, was with other teens inside the abandoned house of worship when he allegedly set a curtain on fire. The curtain then fell on some pews and spread through the 167-year-old building.

Diaz was arrested at his home, which is near the synagogue, and charged with felony arson, the Post said, adding that no other arrests are expected.

Police examined video – reportedly from the Chinese nursing home on the same block, just south of the synagogue — showing a group of young people running from the area at the time of the blaze. Cops subsequently questioned a girl who was part of the group as she was going to school Tuesday, and she gave up Diaz, the newspaper reported.

The fire “doesn’t appear to be bias-related at this time,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said Tuesday.

The synagogue’s roof came crashing down in the raging fire. Photo by Clayton Patterson

The young alleged firebug is also said to be responsible for a smaller blaze that broke out at the same synagogue a week earlier on Sun., May 7. He is currently being held in a Bronx juvenile detention center, and will be arraigned later this month.

“They were not aware of what they were doing, and the way it looks to me, it was not anti-Semitic, it was not a hate crime,” Mendel Greenbaum — the rabbi of the derelict synagogue, which had been unused the past 10 years — told the paper.

“Maybe it’s a wake-up call” for the kid and “gives him some brains…to straighten out his life,” he added.

“We were working tirelessly to renovate the landmark building,” he said, “and to have in some capacity, a revised congressional.”