Authorities Investigating Firebombing Of Home Attached To Rutherford Synagogue

Authorities are investigating a firebombing of a northern New Jersey home attached to a synagogue as attempted murder and bias-related arson.

The fire was reported around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday at Congregation Beth El in Rutherford.

“Incendiary devices were used to attempt to start of a fire in the upstairs portion of the structure which is a residence,” Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.

Rabbi Nosson Schuman, who lives in the home with his wife and five children, said he saw a flash of fire outside his bedroom window before his bedspread caught fire.

“The fire in the bedroom, I had to go put it out. My quilt was on fire. I had to put it out,” he told WCBS 880′s Sean Adams. “Got the kids out and realized that this must have been a continuation of the hate crimes that have been occurring throughout the area.”

Schuman said damage to his home and congregation were minimal. Rutherford Police Capt. Hal Ciser said no one was injured.

Authorities say multiple devices were tossed at the home, including Molotov cocktails and rigged aerosol cans. All appeared as if they were being aimed at the second floor of the house.

It comes just one day before a meeting between representatives of more than 80 synagogues, law enforcement and some Jewish day schools to discuss several incidents targeting Jewish temples in Bergen County.

There was a suspicious fire and two anti-Semitic graffiti incidents in the past few weeks.

The crimes have shaken the community, but Rabbi Neal Borovitz with the Jewish Federation of northern New Jersey says the police are doing all they can.

“Right after the first attack in Maywood, the chief of police in River Edge where my synagogue is located called me to remind me ‘Rabbi, I know you guys turn your lights off to save energy. I want you to keep them on all night,’” he told WCBS 880 reporter Marla Diamond. “We have to be more vigilant without being paranoid.”

He admits it’s been a tough balancing act.

“We hope that this will somehow be the end of it,” said Joy Kurland, who heads the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.

But she’s realistic.

“What we’re basically trying to assist with is having these respective institutions improve, if necessary, their particular security apparatus,” she said.

Members of New Jersey’s Department of Homeland Security will also provide advice at the meeting.


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