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January 11, 2012 9:12 am

“Attempted Murder” Arson Attack at Rutherford, New Jersey Synagogue

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Photo: Fir0002.

By Zach Lichaa and Noah Glyn

A fire that broke out around 5 o’ clock this morning at Temple Beth El in Rutherford, NJ, is under investigation by Bergen County authorities.

“It was a flammable object thrown”, Temple Beth El’s President Larry Goldberg told The Algemeiner.

“The Bergen County prosecutors office, arson, and other agencies have come in. Rutherford police and fire were first on the scene.  It was not electronic and it was not children on the stove”, Goldberg said

The fire crashed through the bedroom window of Rabbi Nosson Schuman, and it set his blanket on fire. There was a fire extinguisher close to the bed, which he used to put out the flames. Rabbi Schuman heard more bombs going off on the roof of the synagogue, and that’s when he decided to call the police. His family was able to evacuate and no one was hurt.

“I thank God,” Rabbi Schuman told The Algemeiner, “It was the best possible scenario considering what happened.”

Congressman Steve Rothman of New Jersey released a statement from Washington, saying “this is not Damascus or Baghdad.  Residential communities, like those here in New Jersey, should never be attacked.”

“You can’t just look at this as an arson, you look at this now as an attempted murder”, said Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli.

This attack comes on the heels of other anti-Semitic violence throughout New Jersey. Someone set fire to a Paramus, New Jersey synagogue, and vandals sprayed a swastika on the doors to a Hackensack, New Jersey synagogue. A Jewish man, Richard Green, allegedly vandalized five Jewish owned stores in Highland Park and New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Rabbi Gurkov from neighboring Passaic, NJ told The Algemeiner “it’s an older struggling congregation, with a small group of committed congregants”.

According to, “investigators were on the temple’s roof, and a fire truck was parked nearby the temple”.

A local resident told the website,  “It is off a side street. It seems awful strange unless somebody has been casing it.”

The Algemeiner will continue to update this story as new details emerge.

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  • rachel

    Unfortunately the rabbi when interviewed by a tv reporter thought the root cause might have been economic. He needs to get real. Hatred is hatred and has nothing to do with economics. Many jobless Jews do not engage in this behavior.

    Jews go out of their way to increase “outreach and dialog” with their neighbors. Being friendly and living together is enough.

    The perpetrators had a callous disregard for the life of others and should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and the Rabbi should not be apologetic or forgiving.

  • B. Keats

    Perhaps its time for Jewish institutions to install video surveilance cameras just like many retail shops. In time this would be a deterent when vandals realize they will be caught on camera. It’s well worth the expense.

  • Bill Goldberg

    How would that stop a firebomb?

  • David Schwed

    Maybe more Jews should move to this area and strengthen this community.