A Kings County Criminal Court judge refused to set bail for the man accused of setting fire to the occupied home of a Flatbush rabbi, instead announcing that he would be arraigned in front of a grand jury later this week.
42 year old Menachem Karelefsky of McKeesport, Pennsylvania smiled during his arraignment Sunday night, with prosecutors telling the judge that he was in possession of lighter fluid and a bag containing an axe and knives when he was picked up by police in Manhattan.
The prosecution also said that they had receipts showing that Karelefsky, who had publicly stated his intention to kill Rabbi Jonathan Max, had purchased charcoal and matches prior to the fire and was seen near the Max home at the time that the fire broke out.
Karelefsky was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with attempted murder and arson in a massive fire that destroyed the home of Rabbi Jonathan Max as well as those of his next door neighbors.
Karelefsky was a former student at Yeshiva Rabbi Chaim Berlin where Rabbi Max has taught for many years and also served as a former dorm counselor. Multiple families lived in the three homes, all of whom escaped serious injury thanks to smoke detectors that alerted them to the rapidly spreading flames.
The judge ordered Karelefsky to appear at a grand jury hearing to be held on Friday and also issued a full order of protection, with Karelefsky agreeing to avoid any contact of any sort with Rabbi Max. Karelefsky was dressed in a short sleeved white t-shirt at this arraignment, his bare arms showing no signs of a tattoo he reportedly has bearing the words “Never let go of the HATRED – KILL Rabbi Max YEMACH SHMO.”