Authorities are treating an incendiary device thrown through the window of an Orthodox temple and home, injuring the rabbi, as attempted murder, the Bergen County prosecutor said.
“Although we were the latest recipients of hate crimes this morning, with G-d’s help, the fire damage was held to a minimum and the family is fine,” Rabbi Nosson Schuman said in a posting on his Facebook wall with a picture of firefighters at his home and Shul.
Schuman suffered burns to one of his hands, said Mayor Joe DeSalvo, who lives down the street.
Prosecutor John Molinelli will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. detailing the attack at Congregation Beth El on Montross Avenue and three other recent incidents against Bergen County synagogues. Molinelli said he does not know whether the Wednesday morning attack is related to those in Paramus, Maywood and Hackensack during the past month.
“This is getting out of control, this is so troublesome,” said Joy Kurland, director of Jewish Community Relations for the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey, which is organizing a meeting Thursday night to discuss the incidents. “This is beyond comprehension that someone could do such horrible harm to a rabbi and his family.”
The incendiary device thrown through the window of the rabbi’s residence on the second floor started a fire. The building houses the Shul, a school and the home where the rabbi lives with his wife, five children and his father.
Neighbor Robert Genardi said the rabbi’s wife told him that something exploded and ignited on the porch roof, shattering the master bedroom window. The wife, who was shaken up, said her five children and the rabbi’s father were not injured.
“She said, ‘Yeah, everything’s OK,’ but she seemed very distressed, very concerned, for the kids especially,” said Genardi, whose daughter is good friends with the children and sleeps over at the home.
Michael Danziger, a borough resident, who attempted to walk a student to the temple school Wednesday morning said he wasn’t surprised by the incident. He has said he heard of the other attacks at other temples in recent days.
“It’s something that goes on,” he said. “It’s the reality of today, yesterday and thousands of years.”
The attack comes the day before law enforcement agencies and representatives from more than 80 synagogues and Jewish day schools are expected to attend a meeting about three separate crimes in the past month against Jewish temples in Bergen County. The crimes, a suspicious fire and two anti-Semitic graffiti incidents, also prompted local synagogues to review security measures.
The most recent incident was the suspicious fire at Congregation K’hal Adath Jeshurun in Paramus a little more than a week ago. An accelerant was used in the rear of the building, which started the small fire, according to authorities.
The fire was ignited less than a month after anti-Semitic graffiti was spray-painted at the Reconstructionist Temple Beth Israel of Bergen County in Maywood and Temple Beth El in Hackensack. Police believe the two graffiti incidents are linked, but Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said this week that they don’t seem to be connected to the Paramus fire.
“The Rutherford one is deeply troubling because people were there and you have an incendiary device,” said Capt. Tomas Padilla, acting officer in charge in Hackensack.