Midwood arson suspect had tattoo reminder to kill rabbi
A Pennsylvania man with a vendetta against a Midwood rabbi was accused in court Sunday night of setting fire to the man’s home in order to kill him — and burning down two other houses in the process.
Matthew Karelefsky was charged with arson and attempted murder for starting the fire on Rabbi Jonathan Max’s porch on Thursday around 4 a.m. The raging fire sent 13 people to Maimonides Medical Center and New York Community Hospital, including one who was critically injured.
Karelefsky has a tattoo on his arm that reads, “Never let go of the HATRED — KILL Rabbi Max YEMACH SHMO,” according to a criminal complaint filed in Brooklyn Criminal Court. Yemach shmo means “may his name be erased,” in Hebrew.
Karelefsky hated the rabbi, and posted about it on social media, according to prosecutors. In court Sunday night, the defendant smiled widely as a judge ordered him held without bail, according to the New York Post.
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The fire started at 1492 E. 17th St. between Avenue N and Avenue O, and quickly moved to the houses on either side, according to FDNY. Firefighters worked for three hours to put out the three-alarm blaze.
On Saturday, Karelefsky’s Pittsburgh landlord received a text from his troubled tenant, “I am on the run from the police BIG TIME,” reported the New York Times.
Karelefsky claimed he has been molested by Rabbi Max as a child, which the rabbi denies, according to the Times.
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