Police hunt man who threw Molotov cocktail at New Jersey synagogue

Recent figures show that there were more antisemitic incidents in New Jersey last year than ever recorded


Police are hunting a man who threw a lit Molotov cocktail at a New Jersey synagogue on Sunday in an apparent attempt to burn the building down, authorities say.

No one was hurt in the incident, which occurred at Temple ner Tamid in the town of Bloomfield, New Jersey. All events and classes were cancelled as congregation leaders assisted police with their investigation, with daily activities resuming on Monday.

Local police are treating the incident as a possible hate crime, or “bias incident”, and attempted arson, and have increased the level at which they patrol synagogues.

The shul’s security cameras captured footage of the attack, which occurred at 3:20am. The suspect, who appears to be white, can be seen dressed fully in black, wearing a ski mask and a top featuring a skull and crossbones print.

The Molotov cocktail had been thrown at the Synagogue’s reinforced door, which blocked the attack and caused the bottle to shatter, causing no damage to the building.

In a statement, Rabbi Marc Katz of Temple ner Tamid said: “We have and will continue to do everything in our power to keep our community safe. Everything worked as it should. Our cameras recorded the incident and our shatter-resistant doors held.

“But what I cannot do is convince our community not to grow despondent. There is hate everywhere, and hate wins when we let it penetrate,”

In response to the attack, the congregation said it was working with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other local Jewish groups for support, though it is unlikely to change its security measures due to the congregation being well-protected.

According to Rabbi Katz, incidents of antisemitism, such as swastikas being drawn in public areas, have been prevalent in the area for some time.

Rabbi Katz said: “There’s a general ethos of hate. In general, what I would say though is I still fundamentally believe that the majority of people are allies and that any hatred that we are seeing is lone actors or very small groups who feel emboldened in this climate,”

The congregation had stepped up security measures in the wake of the 2017 “Unite the Right” white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Rabbi Katz said the shul had been given a grant from Homeland Security which enabled them to hire consultants, train staff, and formulate emergency plans.

Sunday’s attack comes in the wake of disturbing figures published by the ADL regarding antisemitism in New Jersey and the US as a whole.

2021 saw 370 antisemitic incidents in New Jersey, the highest number ever recorded. In November, a man was arrested for allegedly threatening temples across the state, resulting in the FBI issuing warnings to New Jersey’s Jewish communities.

Figures from the ADL also showed that antisemitic incidents across the whole country increased by 34 per cent from the previous year, to a total of 2,717 in 2021.

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