PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A reward has been offered for any information leading to the arrest of those involved in starting fires at a Portland Jewish center last month.
Two fires were reported at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life on SW Vermont Street in August. The first was on August 14 at 10:28 p.m. The second was on August 19 at 2:44 a.m.
Arson investigators are asking for the public’s help and are asking for video footage of activity in the area around the time of the fires. There is no information about a possible suspect.
The Chabad Center for Jewish Life is located inside an older home that’s been converted into a place for those wanting to study, reflect, relax, or simply have a conversation. Rabbi Chayim Mishulovin told KOIN 6 News it’s “a place to get your Jewish items, talk your heart out or just come and pray.”
Mishulovin said the focus was on creating an inclusive space for all, no matter their background. He said only about half of the center’s visitors were Jewish.
“If the world ever needed a place that had that kind of warmth — that kind of just come-as-you-are — now would be the most important time, especially in the last few months where we’ve seen so much negativity,” he said.
Friday, Oct. 2, marks the start of the Jewish festival that represents unity. Rabbi Motti Wilhelm at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life is inviting elected leaders to join in.
“We are going to promote unity, we are going to promote peace,” he said. “We ask everyone we can to please help us and we ask all of our elected officials to come here and share in our message.”
Both rabbis say they’ll be focusing on rebuilding.
“We have to come back in a stronger way — we are going to bring this love and acceptance bigger and better,” said Mishulovin.
Wilhelm said they’ve seen an outpouring of support from both the local and international communities.
“While somebody for some strange reason set this place on fire, the love of the creator, the love of our teachings and the love of fellow human beings that this represents only became stronger,” Wilhelm said. “So I’m feeling sad, but also confident, that we will together build a more significant place of love for fellow human beings for our teachings and for the creator.”
The rabbis say they’re looking for a space to hold the outreach programs that were hosted at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life.
Investigators are asking those who have information about the fires or cellphone or security video available from the nights they took place to come forward.
Crime Stoppers of Oregon is offering up to $2,500 for information leading to an arrest in the case. Additionally, international non-profit Stand With Us has pledged an additional $5,000 reward.
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