Man throws Molotov cocktail at synagogue in bias incident, no damage to temple, police say
A man threw a Molotov cocktail at a New Jersey synagogue during an attempted arson Sunday morning, police and the synagogue said.
The suspect lit and threw a Molotov cocktail at the front door of Temple Ner Tamid around 3 a.m. and fled, Bloomfield police said in a statement. The bottle broke, but caused no damage to the building, police said.
Temple Ner Tamid includes a kindergarten and a K-12 religious school, according to its website. It describes itself as a “welcoming, diverse and musical Reformed congregation where members connect to their heritage while progressively thinking about the present.”
Temple Ner Tamid confirmed in a phone call with CNN that it was the synagogue that was targeted.
Police in Livingston, New Jersey, said they would increase temple patrols in the area following the attack. Livingston is about eight miles west of Bloomfield.
No other temples were affected, Bloomfield police told CNN.
Police provided a still image of the suspect with his face covered.
New Jersey Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said in a statement that his office is investigating the attempted arson in conjunction with local, county, state and federal law enforcement. He also referenced the protests over the death of Tire Nichols, a young black man who died after being beaten by police in Tennessee. “I want to reassure all New Jerseyans — especially our friends and neighbors in the black community and the Jewish faith — that law enforcement continues to take appropriate steps to increase our presence around sensitive locations to that everyone in our state can worship, love, and live without fear of violence or threat.
All activities at the synagogue have been halted for the day and there will be “continued and enhanced police presence throughout the week,” according to a statement from the temple.
The synagogue’s Rabbi Marc Katz expressed his anger at the attack as well as his gratitude to the Jewish community.
“We have and will continue to do everything in our power to keep our community safe,” he said in the temple’s statement. “Everything worked as it should. Our cameras recorded the incident and our unbreakable doors held firm.
“But what I can’t do is convince our community not to get discouraged,” he continued. “There is hate everywhere, and hate wins when you let it in. When the weight of this gets too heavy, I remind my congregation that every day, despite what is happening, in Jewish communities around the world, babies are being named, children are being educated, people are being married.
“Our religious traditions endure. No act of hate can stop the power of religious freedom.
Dov Ben-Shimon, 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 larger spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes.
“The incident comes amid a climate of intimidation and intolerance, and a rising tide of anti-Jewish hate crimes and hate speech against Jews,” he said.
“Our Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ will continue to work with all partners in the community to fight hate, build our resilience, and promote safety and security,” he said.
The Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism, which has tracked incidents of anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and assault in the United States since 1979, reported 2,717 incidents of anti-Semitism in 2021, a 34% increase from to the previous year.