New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson

Police investigating whether fire in mobile Chabad outreach center was caused by a short circuit, but after two attacks on the vehicle in the past year, the operator believes this cannot be a mere coincidence; ‘It's the same people with the same interests: to attack Judaism’

Daniel Edelson, New York|

Chabad's Mitzvah Tank in Brooklyn, New York went up in flames on Sunday night in what is suspected to be a deliberate arson on antisemitic grounds.
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Rabbi Yehuda Pevzner, the operator of the mobile outreach center known as the Tanker, said that this marks the third time the vehicle has been targeted in the past year.
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New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
(Photo: Noam Guez)
A Mitzvah tank is a vehicle used by Chabad as a portable "educational and outreach center" and "mini-synagogue" to reach out to non-observant and alienated Jews.
The Mitzvah tank in Brooklyn has been in operation for six years, has hosted close to a thousand bar mitzvahs, and has "brought joy to tens of thousands of Jews across New York," according to Pevzner, who estimates the damages at around $50,000-$70,000.
6 View gallery
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
(Photo: Noam Guez)
6 View gallery
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
(Photo: Noam Guez)
"These are very difficult sights, an insane step up. It's not like a case of someone shouting at you or calling you names on the street — here, it's an organized act and much more threatening. These incidents are becoming more frequent, and the situation in New York is worsening. We always rely on the Lord, and luckily there were no injuries. We are trying to recover now, but we will continue to operate. If someone hits you, you have to hit back twice as hard, not fall."
Rabbi Pevzner said that he hopes that the Mitzvah tank will be back and running within two weeks. "We will rebuild the tank, our goal is not to let those people bring us down. To show them that the people of Israel exist forever," he added.
6 View gallery
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
(Photo: Noam Guez)
6 View gallery
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
(Photo: Noam Guez)
6 View gallery
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
New York Mitzvah tank destroyed in suspected antisemitic arson
(Photo: Noam Guez)
The New York Police Department is investigating the incident and considering the possibility that the fire was caused by a short circuit. However, Rabbi Pevzner contends that this cannot be a mere coincidence.
"This is already the third time. The previous two times it happened in Manhattan, and the perpetrators sprayed the word 'Palestine' on the vehicle. It's the same people with the same interests: to attack Judaism," he accused.
The vehicle itself is very safe, mounted with many mechanisms that prevent fire from spreading. It burned when [the vehicle] was turned off; these things do not happen on their own. We are now looking for footage from security cameras in the area to share with authorities and prove that this was a deliberate act."
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