Flatbush Arsonist Matthew (Menachem) Karelefsky is Convert to Christianity

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A 41-year-old Pennsylvania Jewish native who later converted to Christianity has been arrested by authorities in connection to the fire that destroyed three homes in Flatbush, Brooklyn, last week.

No less than a dozen people – including a 6-week-old baby – as well as several firefighters were injured in the fire, though not seriously.

The suspect is Matthew (Menachem) Karelefsky, who for years has been threatening to kill or injure one of the occupants of the homes.

Karelefsky, who lived in foster care and an Ohel home, has broken the law many times in the past and, sources told Matzav.com, was arrested a year ago for an email threat against the person whose house he eventually burned down in an act of arson this past week.

The unhinged arsonist allegedly sports a tattoo on his right arm expressing his desire to kill his target in last week’s fire.

The four-alarm fire started at about 3:45 a.m. at the East 17th Street home and then spread to the neighboring houses, requiring three hours to get the conflagration under control.

Karelefsky grew up non-religious and later became frum after joining a Brooklyn yeshiva, staying religious for about twenty years, before leaving his heritage behind. Karelefsky, in writings obtained by Matzav.com, claimed to be “healing in church almost every Sunday.”

Karelefsky will be charged with attempted murder.



  1. הרואה סוטה בקילקולה, יזיר את עצמו מן היין
    The more we involve ourselves with crime, hate, violence, nevolah, etc. the more we become desensitized to it, and the more siyagim we require. Why not post acts of chesed, accomplishments/milestones in learning, etc.? Why not? Because, as Marc Twain said, “Dog Bites Man” doesn’t sell papers (or advertising), but “Man Bites Dog” does.

  2. Thank G-d this miscreant was caught. I hope he never sees the light of day again. He is a proven danger to society.
    May all the families that were terrorized and suffered losses, have only blessings going forward.

  3. He’s Christian like I’m Zoroastrian.
    While he was frum, he was out baiting Christians, and considered himself a self-styled anti-missionary.
    Instead of provoking Christians gratuitously as before his divorce, after his divorce Menachem tried to goad frum people. “I’m OTD!” “I’m dating a goyishe woman!” “I’m now into….”, and finally, “I converted to Christianity because…..”
    Maybe now he’ll get the help he’s been resisting for over a decade, as he spun deeper into the vortex of hate, extreme thinking & dysfunction.

    • 12:03, I have known the guy when he was frum, and I don’t recall him participating in any anti missionary activities. The guy has obviously gone insane as you are saying. However, don’t try to justify your disregard to shmad by illogical associations between anti-missionary activity and turning meshumad. An oheiv Yisroel will not just ignore missionaries trying to bamboozle uneducated Yiden; and the best way to deal with Avoida Zora is through mockery, not a polite conversation – especially in public.

  4. The suspect is obviously mentally disturbed.

    1)Was he always or was he driven off the deep end?

    2) If he went crazy, what was the cause?

    3) A Jew cannot shun his Judaism! As such, the title of this article is incorrect.

    May all who were wronged be properly compensated by the true Judge, Borei olam!

  5. Unstable people should not be encouraged to become stricter in their observance, but rather to get help, and they can later become truly more religious. I have seen a disturbing number of weak people (especially ladies) pushed in a similar way, and often becoming much more unhinged.
    If he has been through the foster “care” system, it is very hard to recover from it.

    • 6:28, the guy became frum when he was still in high school. Not sure about foster care, but I saw him with his parents once, and he didn’t come across as some foster care case. When in yeshiva he was a nice kid, though a little on a hyped up side. There was no way to predict that this guy will turn into a nut case. What made him go meshumad? I’d speculate that it was superficiality: he associated Yidishkeit with a nice life style, and when his life got difficult and not so nice (due to some family troubles), he got disillusioned with Yidishkeit. Mitoch shelo lishmo bo lishmo – only works if one desires to actually progress to lishmo phase.

        • Was a nice guy when he was in yeshiva. As I understand, he went crazy in the last 10 years or so after moving to PA, due to some family troubles. Very sad case. Nobody could have predicted that he’ll go nuts.


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