Rutherford temple firebombing suspect arrested, say rabbi's family

Authorities arrested a suspect in the Rutherford temple fire bombing Tuesday morning, according to the rabbi’s father.

The Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office will hold a press conference this afternoon, a source confirmed. Rabbi Nosson Schuman told his father he would be at the press conference.

The father, Larry Schuman, said investigators came by Tuesday morning to tell the family of the arrest in the attack earlier this month.

“It was relatively fast,” he said. “It was a fantastic job. It’s not easy to find a perpetrator.”

The rabbi’s wife, Pessy Schuman, said the prosecutor’s office called this morning and that she and her husband would attend the press conference. The couple was out of town at a hotel to get away for a couple days when the call came, she said.

Joy Kurland, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, said she also will be attending the press conference, and believes someone has been apprehended. She said although good news, she said temple leaders need to remain on guard. 

"If that's the case we would be extremely relieved that someone has been apprehended in regard to this horrific crime committed,'' she said. "But we still need to be vigilant and live by the mantra that if you see something, say something."

The arrest comes after the prosecutor’s office released a video on Friday of a suspect leaving what appeared to be a Walmart. The prosecutor’s office did not release details of the arrest.

Surveillance images and a video distributed by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office on Friday show a young man leaving a store where investigators think he bought materials used two days later to firebomb a Rutherford synagogue, injuring the rabbi who lived there.

When the images were released, the prosecutor’s office said the man was thought to live in Bergen County and may not have been working alone.

Several Molotov cocktails were thrown at Congregation Beth El synagogue on Montross Avenue in Rutherford in the early morning of Jan. 11. One of them went through a second-floor window of the synagogue’s living quarters, where Rabbi Nosson Schuman and his wife were sleeping.

Schuman was burned on his hand as he extinguished the flames. The Schumans; their five children, who range in age from 5 to 17; and Nosson Schuman’s father all escaped safely.

The firebombing of the Rutherford temple was the most violent of recent attacks on Jewish institutions.

Joanne Rose, secretary at Temple Beth El in Hackensack, who found anti-Semitic graffiti at the temple in December, said she hasn't heard anything new about the investigation into the various crimes. But said if someone has been arrested for the Rutherford firebombing she would be happy.

"I hope they prosecute him all the way,'' she said.


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