An Orthodox Jewish church in New York City has been destroyed by fire after a vandal threw firecrackers into the interior.
The Orthodox Jewish community in the borough of Queens is known for its colorful decorations and large congregations.
The Rev. Shira Zalkin told NBC News the vandalism occurred at St. Joseph’s Orthodox Church, located in the Queens borough of New York.
Zalkin said the vandal was seen at the church, which is surrounded by a wall of stained glass, when she and others saw him leaving the building and returned.
Zorn said she was standing with her husband and daughter when the woman threw the firecracker at them, knocking them to the ground.
She said they quickly grabbed the woman and ran inside.
She said the woman was wearing a skullcap, and that it was dark.
Zorn said the mother was wearing an oversized hat.
The church was destroyed by the fire and the man fled the scene.
Zaleh Khedrori, a spokesman for the Orthodox Jewish Council of Greater New York, said the congregation is in the process of restoring its damaged sanctuary, and are working with the NYPD to find the vandal.
The fire damaged the church’s stained-glass windows, and several of its columns were bent and toppled.
The man was seen fleeing the scene by a nearby car, which was reported to police, but Zalkins father and sister were not hurt.