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Midnight fire destroys part of Warsaw synagogue

February 26, 1997

WARSAW, Poland (AP) _ An arson fire early Wednesday damaged the only active synagogue in Warsaw, destroying two doors and blackening an entrance hall, congregation leaders said. A janitor was treated for inhaling fumes.

Two burned-out metal cans were found inside the vestibule and a sack of sawdust was lying outside the synagogue, said Konstanty Gebert, one of the congregation’s 1,000 members.

``All indications suggest it was attempted arson,″ said Gebert. He said the cans apparently were thrown through a window above the carved wooden main entrance door, which was destroyed.

The congregation received a telephoned bomb threat two days earlier, Gebert said.

Poland’s chief rabbi, Menachem Joskovich, had no immediate damage estimate.

About 3.5 million Jews lived in Poland before World War II, but most were killed in the Nazi Holocaust. Only about 10,000 live in Poland today.

During the war, the Nazis used the synagogue as a stable and then destroyed it. Communist authorities rebuilt it in 1983 and it has been in use since.

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