Suspect threw Molotov cocktail at NJ synagogue’s front door: Police


Police said a man in a ski mask lit a Molotov cocktail and threw it at the front door of a synagogue around 3 a.m. Sunday in Essex County, N.J., marking the latest incident of violent antisemitic acts in the state and across the country.

The suspect, who was shown in surveillance footage wearing black pants and a black hooded sweatshirt, fled down the driveway after throwing the makeshift explosive, but there was no damage to Temple Ner Tamid, a synagogue in Bloomfield, officials said. State and federal authorities are investigating the incident after the synagogue staff members reported property damage.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said on Twitter that he “strongly condemn[s] these acts” and “there is no place for violence or hate in New Jersey.”

New Jersey recorded 370 antisemitic incidents last year, making it the second highest number recorded in any state across the country after New York, according to the civil rights group that fights antisemitism, the Anti-Defamation League.

Nationwide, ADL recorded an all-time high of 2,717 harassment, vandalism and assault against Jewish people and institutions in 2021, which was a 34% increase from the prior year.

“This incident comes at a moment when we have seen a spike in antisemitic incidents, including the recent threat in November to New Jersey Synagogues,” the New Jersey Region of American Jewish Committee wrote in a joint statement. “It also took place on the heels of International Holocaust Remembrance Day when we are reminded of where such horrific actions can lead.”

Rabbi David Levy, the regional director of the New Jersey Region of American Jewish Committee, said he believes people should be proactive when they speak out against these crimes.

“Speaking out publicly and strongly is one of the ways we can combat the rise of this hate in our communities,” he said, adding that he believes that hate stems from a lack of knowledge about the Holocaust. (Just half of Americans knew that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, according to a survey conducted by the American Jewish Committee.)

On Facebook, Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia said, “Hate and antisemitism will not be tolerated and have no place in our welcoming community. Our thoughts and prayers are with our entire Jewish community.”

New Jersey State Attorney Matt Platkin said his office was working closely with state and federal law enforcement to identify the male suspect.

“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,” he wrote in a statement on Twitter.

Platkin also mentioned that his office is aware of a “potentially bias-motivated” attack at a church in Monmouth County on Saturday, but he did not say if the two incidents were related.

One day before Shabbat in November, the FBI warned of a “broad threat to synagogues” in New Jersey. The FBI identified a suspect and announced they no longer posed a danger to the community soon after.

“That created a sense of fear right then and there,” Levy said. “We had never [before] had a public warning by the FBI that synagogues could be under threat.”


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