Photo of fire at HAFTR with Lawrence-Cedarhurst firefighters in the foreground. Photos courtesy of K2M photography


Lawrence-Cedarhurst and Inwood firefighters responded to 33 Washington Ave., in Lawrence, at about 3:15 a.m. on Jan. 10, to what fire officials called “a working fire” on the second floor of the lower school of Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns & Rockaway.

The fire began in the elementary school’s STEM lab and damaged two classrooms, police and school officials said. Ancillary water and smoke damage affected other parts of the building, according to HAFTR administrators.

“At this time, our electricity, internet, and phones are down,” officials said.

Safety experts and restoration crews need “a wide berth in which to work,” HAFTR officlals said. “This work will include a thorough inspection of all buildings on the lower campus. Therefore, the Early Childhood, Lower School, and Middle School will be closed tomorrow, Friday, January 11. The safety of our students and faculty is our NUMBER ONE PRIORITY.”

“The restoration company is already working hard to accelerate the clean-up process in order to re-open the school as soon as possible,” an email to HAFTR parents stated. “We are in contact with the Building Department, Fire Marshal, Village of Lawrence, PSEG and our third party vendors to make sure everything is safe for the reopening.”

HAFTR thanked the many administrators and board members who helped during the crisis.

Executive Director Ari Solomon and Director of Security Sam Velez were on the scene immediately, the email to the HAFTR community said. “Shortly thereafter, our wonderful and dedicated principals Joy Hammer, Tova Zucker, Cyndy Goldberg, and Josh Gold, and lay leadership, Yaron Kornblum and Neil Wiener, responded to the scene to help assess the situation and be on hand.”

Several community businesses opened their doors to students on Thursday, giving them a place to go. Make It Too, FitWise and LIGA quickly set up programs for students. David’s Pizza donated lunch to the Make It Too program. Make It Too, Fitwise and LIGA will again hold programs on Friday. Lollibop will offer “mini-camp” on Friday from 10 am to noon for ages three to six. Email to register. Warren Levi Martial Arts & Fitness will run a camp from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for children ages 3 and up. $50 per child includes lunch, snacks and activities, with surplus going to HAFTR. To register call 516-569-0808.


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