Explosive thrown at NY synagogue on the Sabbath, shocked worshipers

The loud explosion startled both worshipers inside the synagogue and residents of the quiet Queens street.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

No injuries were reported after an explosive device was hurled near a New York City synagogue on Friday night.

The device, which police said was a homemade firework, exploded just outside of Shaare Tova Synagogue on Lefferts Blvd. in Kew Gardens, Queens.

While initial reports suggested that the synagogue may have been a target, authorities are now saying the incident was not a hate crime.

The NYPD wrote on Twitter that the hurling of the firework came on the heels of a dispute between “an individual on the street and two individuals in a van.

“It appears that [a suspect in] the van tossed a firework onto the sidewalk which was set off as they drove away.”

While there were no injuries or damage to nearby buildings, the loud explosion shocked both worshipers inside the synagogue and residents of the quiet Queens street.

“I was in the synagogue. We were in the middle of a service, and we just heard a huge bang and everybody was just a little bit kind of alarmed,” Markiel Babekov told CBS 2.

“We were not sure what it was a bang about.”

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“It was a second, but it was a huge bang – way louder than a car backfiring,” Chris Beck, who lives near the synagogue, told ABC 7.

“My wife and I rushed to the window because you could feel it. An explosion that you could feel inside.”

After hearing the noise, Beck went to his window and saw a large puff of smoke.

“That dissipated in a few minutes – in a few seconds – but it was really loud. I’m on the floor and the windows kind of rattled. Me and my neighbors thought a manhole exploded.”

“The noise was like something collapsing,” another resident of the neighborhood told the New York Daily News.

“It was in the back of the synagogue. I rushed out to make sure everything was all right, and the police were everywhere.”

The driver of the van was taken into custody several hours after the incident.