Fire in the Exeter Synagogue
Jewish World, August 1876
On Sunday morning last the Jewish residents of Exeter were somewhat alarmed by a rumour that the synagogue was in flames. At 8 o'clock smoke was observed to be issuing from the windows by persons living in the neighbourhood, who immediately brought water in buckets to subdue the fire. An engine was eventually brought and the flames got under control. The conflagration was confined to the centre of the building, the floor ad bearings been burned to the foundations, and the ark, tablets, ladies' gallery and seats have been scorched.
The desk with its coverings and the books on it have been entirely destroyed, and but for the exertions of Messrs Hart and Jonas, the Scrolls of the Law might have shared a similar fate. Fortunately, the windows of the dome over the writing desk were closed, and the absent of a current of air confined the flames (which must have been smouldering for hours) to the parts ignited. The cause is attributed to the wax taper used for Havdala having been placed in the desk before it was extinguished, and setting fire to the books there. The property is insured in the Sun Fire Office. The building was erected some 40 years ago, on the sit of a prior synagogue, which was built some century and a half ago, when the Jewish community in Exeter was much more numerous than it is now.
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