Man in Ski Mask Hurls Molotov Cocktail at Bloomfield, NJ Synagogue as Anti-Semitic Violence Continues to Soar - The Jewish Voice
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Man in Ski Mask Hurls Molotov Cocktail at Bloomfield, NJ Synagogue as Anti-Semitic Violence Continues to Soar

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Man in Ski Mask Hurls Molotov Cocktail at Bloomfield, NJ Synagogue as Anti-Semitic Violence Continues to Soar

Edited by: Fern Sidman

A man wearing a ski mask lit the wick of a Molotov cocktail and hurled it at the front door of a Bloomfield, N.J., synagogue early on Sunday morning, the New York Times reported. The latest episode in an uptick of harassment and violence targeting Jews and Jewish institutions, the authorities said, according to the NYT report.

– Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, N.J., was the site of an attempted arson early Sunday, the police said. Photo Credit: Google Maps

Police in Bloomfield in Essex County said officers responded at about 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning to a report of property damage at Temple Ner Tamid, the AP reported.

Police said surveillance video revealed that a man had approached the front door of the synagogue shortly before 3:30 a.m. Sunday with a Molotov cocktail, which he lit and threw at the door. The AP reported that local law enforcement said the glass bottle broke but didn’t cause any damage to the temple, and the suspect fled down the driveway.

The synagogue is part of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey, which announced the incident without identifying the temple or its location, reported. The organization’s president, David Saginaw, was quoted as saying “Thankfully, the device did not work as intended and as such, the damage was limited,” as was reported by the AP.

The AP also reported that police opened an attempted arson and bias incident investigation and are investigating with the aid of Essex County prosecutors, the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Police released a photo of the masked suspect, who they said is believed to be a Caucasian male.

The New Jersey attorney general’s office said it was aware of the attempted arson and was working with local, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies to identify and apprehend the suspect, the AP reported.

The state attorney general, Matthew J. Platkin, said in a statement that his office was also made aware of a separate “attack on members of a church in Monmouth County” on Saturday, according to the NYT report.

He did not offer details or say whether the attacks were linked but described the attack on the church as “another incident being pursued as potentially bias-motivated,” the NYT reported.

“We are cognizant of the fact that these attacks have occurred while violence continues to erupt in Israel, and while our own nation reckons with violence at home,” Platkin said in a statement.

The New York Post reported that Platkin also said in the statement: “I want to reassure all New Jerseyans – especially our friends and neighbors of the Black community and the Jewish faith – that law enforcement continues to take the appropriate steps to increase our presence around the sensitive places so that everyone in our state can worship, love, and live without fear of violence or threat.”

The man pictured on the video surveillance at the Bloomfield temple was wearing black clothing, including a shirt that appeared to have a skull and crossbones design on it, according to the synagogue’s surveillance footage, as was reported by the NYT. The police it was unclear if the assailant got away on foot or by car.

The synagogue said in a statement that the fire went out on impact and that the door was secure.

All scheduled activities on Sunday were canceled, and the synagogue said it expected an ongoing and heightened police presence in the coming days, the NYT reported.

Speaking to the Bergen Record, Rabbi Marc Katz, the rabbi of Temple Ner Tamid said, “People have been on heightened alert because of this and are feeling rightfully worried about the state of anti-Semitism because of how prevalent it has been lately. He added that, “Still, I don’t think anybody ever expects their congregation is going to be attacked,” as was reported by the Post.

Rabbi Katz said in a statement that the synagogue has and “will continue to do everything in our power to keep our community safe.” He added that, “everything worked as it should. Our cameras recorded the incident, and our shatter-resistant doors held.”

Rabbi Katz also said that the temple had previously improved security measures, including adding shatter-proof barriers over the glass of the windows and doors, the NYT reported.  He stressed that “we were able to avert the worst” because the Molotov cocktail didn’t break past the doors.

“But what I cannot do, is convince our community not to grow despondent,” Rabbi Katz said. “There is hate everywhere, and hate wins when we let it penetrate. When the weight of this grows too heavy, I remind my congregation that every day, despite what is happening, in Jewish communities around the world, babies are named, children are educated, people are married.”

“Our religious traditions continue. No act of hate can stop the power of religious freedom,” he added, according to a CNN reported.


Dov Ben-Shimon, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey, to which Temple Ner Tamid belongs, wrote on Twitter that the attack was part of a wider spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes, CNN reported.

The “incident comes amidst a climate of intimidation and intolerance, and a rising tide of anti-Jewish hate crimes and hate speech against Jews,” Ben-Shimon said. CNN reported that he added that, “Our Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ will continue to work with all partners in the community to stand up to hate, build our resilience, and promote safety and security.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy condemned the attack on Sunday evening.

“Let me be clear: there is no place for violence or hate in New Jersey and I strongly condemn these acts,” the governor tweeted Sunday, according to the CNN report.

CNN also reported that the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness also said in a statement they are “aware and closely monitoring an early morning incident in Bloomfield, NJ, where an unidentified suspect targeted a synagogue with an incendiary device.”

Rep. Mikie Sherrill, who represents the Garden State’s 11th House District, said she was “heartbroken” by the incident, the Post reported.

“Although I am grateful that damage was minimal and no one was injured, I am heartbroken and angry today,” she said in a statement, the Post reported. “Anti-Semitic hatred is on the rise in our state, our country, and around the world and we all must work together to eradicate it.”

Michael Venezia, the mayor of Bloomfield, a township about eight miles north of Newark, said on Facebook that “hate and anti-Semitism will not be tolerated and have no place in our welcoming community,” according to the NYT report.

The NYT also reported that the Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey said in a joint statement issued with partner organizations that the attempted arson at Temple Ner Tamid came amid a “spike in antisemitic incidents” and recent threats at synagogues in New Jersey.

In November, an 18-year-old man from Middlesex County, N.J., was charged with threatening to attack a synagogue and Jews that month, the NYT reported.  The episode prompted a rare warning from the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New Jersey of a broad threat to synagogues in the state.

Since a spate of bomb threats starting in 2017, synagogues have fortified their physical infrastructure with shatter-resistant windows, more security cameras and controlled access to buildings, said Bob Wilson, chief security officer for the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, who oversees training on how to best respond to threats, the NYT reported.

“We’re just trying to make that security piece an integral part of much of what they do — not to be scared, but to be prepared,” he said.

The NYT reported that in 2021, the Anti-Defamation League recorded 370 anti-Semitic incidents in New Jersey, representing the highest number ever recorded by the organization for the state — and the second-highest total recorded across the country that year.

Scott Richman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of New York and New Jersey told the NYT that figures from 2022 are not yet available, but they will not show a decrease.

“Anti-Semitism is on the rise,” Richman said. “We are not in a vacuum here. Jews are not alone in this. It’s not just anti-Semitism. It’s about hate. We are one of the victims.”

In yet another case of anti-Semitism emanating from prominent personalities, the Post reported that disgraced Long Island Rep. George Santos allegedly made tasteless jokes about Adolf Hitler and “the Jews and blacks,” according to an alarming new report.

The Republican congressman — who claimed to be a “proud American Jew” during his campaign before admitting to The Post last month that he was “clearly Catholic” — purportedly made the wisecrack in a Facebook thread obtained by Patch, the Post reported.

The since-deleted comment was a reply to a March 2011 post from a friend who suggested that a photo of someone saluting looked “something like Hitler,” the outlet said.

“hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh hiiiiiiiiiiiitlerrrrrrrrrrr (hight hitler),” Santos replied, according to a screenshot of the chat shared by a former friend, Patch said, as was reported by the Post.

“lolololololololololololol sombody [sic] kill her!!” Santos went on, repeating the acronym for “laugh out loud.”

“The Jews and black mostly lolllolol!!! Dum,” he concluded, according to the screenshot shared by Patch and reported on by the Post.

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