‘Business as usual’ for Santa Monica synagogue as authorities detain blast suspect

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Brian Watt/KPCC

Firefighters removing a huge object that flew onto the roof of a home near a synagogue in Santa Monica on April 7, 2011.

Federal authorities on Tuesday charged the man who allegedly set off an explosion last week at a Santa Monica synagogue. Investigators say 60-year-old transient Ron Hirsch broke federal law when he hopped a New York-bound Greyhound in California to avoid prosecution. Police arrested Hirsch in Ohio on Monday. At the synagogue, it’ll be Passover as usual next week.

Eli Levitansky, the rabbi at Chabad House Lubavitch of Santa Monica, says the center is planning Passover Seders for Monday and Tuesday. He expects at least a couple hundred people to attend, despite last Thursday’s blast that ripped a hole in the building, shattered windows and rattled nerves.

Levitansky says he’s not worried about another scare.

“There’s different security measures that are being placed in. We’re in touch with law enforcement, of course," he says. "Can’t get into too much detail about that, but otherwise no services are going to be stopped. If anything, we’ll be increasing services.”

Last week’s explosion also damaged a home near the synagogue. Authorities say Hirsch is scheduled to appear in a Cleveland federal courtroom on Wednesday.

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