[COMMUNICATED] In a shocking turn of events, a row of French yeshiva buildings was destroyed by a massive fire, just one week before Pesach. The burned buildings included both the beis midrash, and housing for talmidim. The yeshiva’s avreichim and their families are now reportedly homeless. Despite enormous damage, there were miraculously no deaths.
Yeshivas Beit Yosef Novardok, about 70 km from France, is well known in the local Jewish community for its contributions to Torah learning. Just after midnight, one of the talmidim smelled smoke, and all of the tenants were evacuated. Minutes later, the entire building was consumed by flames. The talmidim and their families stood in the snow in pajamas, watching their homes burn away.
Local firefighters say that the entire building will be demolished in the near future, leaving an empty plot of land. This is particularly shocking to the community considering that there are just days remaining until Pesach.
“We are not even thinking about Pesach right now,” says yeshiva veteran Rabbi Yaakov Yom Tov. “We are just thinking about getting through today, and tomorrow.”
Rabbi Yom Tov recalled other shocking scenes from the fire: “We were counting the families when we discovered that one child was missing. One of the adults ran in and pulled him out of his bed. Just one minute later would have been too late.”
The yeshiva has opened an emergency fund with the goal of re-opening for the summer zman. In the meantime, over a hundred talmidim and their families have no belongings, and no place to go.