Authorities Think Rabbi Was Targeted In Rutherford Firebomb Attack

RUTHERFORD, NJ (CBSNewYork) – Authorities are investigating a firebombing of a northern New Jersey home attached to a synagogue as attempted murder and bias-related arson.

The fire was reported around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday at Congregation Beth El in Rutherford.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reports

Rabbi Nosson Schuman and his wife say someone threw an explosive device through the bedroom window of their home on the second floor of the Temple Beth El synagogue in Rutherord. The couple live with their five children.

“We just woke up to flames roaring through my window and my quilt caught on fire,” he told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan. “I really think by the grace of God the fire did go out and when it came through the window it did not come on our faces. It went on the blankets.”

“Incendiary devices were used to attempt to start of a fire in the upstairs portion of the structure which is a residence,” Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports

“It was almost like a dragon’s breath,” Schuman told Sandberg.

Schuman said damage to his home and congregation were minimal.

“My quilt was on fire. I had to put it out,” he told WCBS 880’s essay writer Sean Adams. “Got the kids out and realized that this must have been a continuation of the hate crimes that have been occurring throughout the area.”

Schuman grabbed a fire extinguisher and suffered burns to his hands, but neighbors said he is doing okay.

“I ran to get the kids, started screaming, then got my father-in-law in the attic,” said Pessy Schuman, the rabbi’s wife.

Police believe more than one person hurled several molotav cocktails and lit aerosal canisters, with one of them crashing through the rabbi’s bedroom window, melting his blinds and lighting up his bed while he and his wife were sleeping.

“We are not assuming this was committed by one it could have been two or more individuals,” said Molinelli.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

Authorities say multiple devices were tossed at the home, including Molotov cocktails and rigged aerosol cans. All appeared as if they were being aimed at the second floor of the house.

Molinelli is convinced the rabbi was targeted because of his Orthodox Jewish faith.

“This is certainly a hate crime. This is certainly a bias crime. This is aggravated arson, but most importantly, we’re now looking on this as an attempted homicide,” he said.

Schuman also believes he was a target of hate.

“I think they wanted to make a big statement and kill a Jewish leader,” he said.

It comes just one day before a meeting between representatives of more than 80 synagogues, law enforcement and some Jewish day schools to discuss several incidents targeting Jewish temples in Bergen County.

There was a suspicious fire and two anti-Semitic graffiti incidents in the past few weeks.

LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond on the upcoming meeting

The crimes have shaken the community, but Rabbi Neal Borovitz with the Jewish Federation of northern New Jersey says the police are doing all they can.

“Right after the first attack in Maywood, the chief of police in River Edge, where my synagogue is located, called me to remind me ‘Rabbi, I know you guys turn your lights off to save energy. I want you to keep them on all night,'” he told WCBS 880 reporter Marla Diamond. “We have to be more vigilant without being paranoid.”

He admits it’s been a tough balancing act.

“We hope that this will somehow be the end of it,” said Joy Kurland, who heads the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.

But she’s realistic.

“What we’re basically trying to assist with is having these respective institutions improve, if necessary, their particular security apparatus,” she said.

Members of New Jersey’s Department of Homeland Security will also provide advice at the meeting.

Please share your thoughts below….


    Tonight, January 12, there is a major meeting in Bergen County regarding the recent swastikas and attempted murder of a Rabbi and his family. The FBI has been brought into this and the meeting includes representatives from the governor’s office and homeland security. While I applaud these efforts I wonder why when my synagogue had swastikas, when a Yeshiva student in Edison was assaulted, when the Edison Lexus dealership was vandalized with swastikas and numerous other areas of Edison were swatikaed we did not hear from the governor’s office nor was there a mass meeting of state leaders and politicians. Several years ago while walking to Synagogue on a friday night around Halloween, my wife and I were attacked by teenagers in a van throwing eggs. They waited for us to leave the synagogue and pelted us again while driving off. Why was there silence at that time from the governor’s office? I warned about all this happening years ago and continue to warn the public about the rise of anti-semitism as well as hatred for all minority groups . Unless and until the judicial system hands out harsh punishment, including real jail time to these perpetrators, including teen agers, nothing will change. Writing an essay on the Holocaust or doing community service means nothing to those blinded by bigotry and hatred. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

  • IgnoranteElephante

    What’s wrong with the comment? Anytime anyone dare question a Jew, why is it the reaction is always censorship or labeling it a hate crime.

  • rabbi rosenberg





  • J Biden

    here we go again with the anti semitism…everything is a hate crime and so forth. do we need to hear about the holocaust every time a jewish person is the victim of a crime? Many other races have faced genocide as well.

    This man was probably attacked by elements of jewish organized crime for oweing a debt. Seems like he does very well for a rabbi. lots of questions

    • B. Soetero

      Yes it is getting tiresome that every crime against a Jew is a hate attack and anti-semitism. When was the last time there was a true hate crime against the jews in NY?

  • rabbi rosenberg

    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg was on Channel 12 last night discussing the attempted murder of the Rabbi and his family in Rutherford, New Jersey.
    Last night Rabbi was informed of additional swastikas in Johnson Park and with his involvement they are being removed by the Parks Department.
    Rabbi Rosenberg has been predicting this for years and perhaps finally the public has woken up. Rabbi Rosenberg has upped the security for Edison through the Edison Police Department.

  • David

    Nice temple, that according to the rabbi, no one knew about (heard on 1010wins interview). How many in the congregation? Abuse of the temple law for tax purposes? Just how many such temples exist?
    Having said that, I do hope the criminals are caught and brought to public justice, not quiet rabbinical justice.

  • its good to know

    at least your honest about your hatred for Jews and G-d. unlike the commentors before and after you,.

    • David

      And what about your hatred for Jewish women, “its good to know”? Disrespecting Jewish women by not letting them drive and forcing them to the back of the bus is sickening anti-semitism.

  • Bill

    At first glance I thought that mansion was Derek Jeter’s house. Is there some place we can contribute money to help this poor rabbi rebuild?

    • Freida

      You are one sick freak. A whole family’s a target of a potentially fatal arson attack and this is what you focus on? How would you feel if someone tried to burn you and your loved ones alive?


    i live in north arlington which is about three miles away. rutherford is such a nice peaceful town. its hard to believe it could happeh there.

  • dave

    If this guy was a Muslim who did this , the news wouldn’t report it. There are 100s of articles where the criminal was not described as being Muslim, yet was.

    • Ari

      If it was another Jew, it won’t be reported either. There have been many, many instances lately where people from one Jewish sect have been targeted – even firebombing – other Jews. Look up the story about New Square, where a rabbi actually had his butler torch a man and his children in their home, and a story in Israel where a baby was doused with gasoline and then the house was set on fire. There is a lot of Jewish infighting lately but you don’t hear about it as much. They like to try to keep it quiet.

  • Amazed

    Does the family in Connecticut not have enough grief without you implying that the adults did not do enough to save the children? It is a blessing that this family had enough time to get everyone out safely.

  • scott

    There appears to be quite a distinction between the actions of this man trying to save his family, and those of that family in Conn. where three children and two grandparents died in a fire and the at-home mother and her boyfriend escaped unscathed.
    God bless the Rabbi and his family.
    P.S. I’ve personally been in hundreds of fires in the South Bronx in the early 70’s and have witnessed the tragedy of fire.

  • Mohammed

    This is terrible ! As a practicing Muslim this is uncalled for. Going after someone with even children in the home. I will say a prayer for the Rabbi and hope this criminal is caught soon.

    • sonya

      Thank you.

    • Michael

      Thank you. Things like this should not happen.

    • guest

      Sorry that Muslims are also being targeted. I hope this crap stops and we can return to living with each other respectfully

  • Jeff

    This is getting too much out of hand. I know this Rabbi personally. The man has a wife and 5 kids. What kind of low life is this person who not only attempted to harm the Rabbi, but also wanted to hurt or even kill the kids. I hope they find the sons of bitches and fry thier asses. I don’t understand this, we are into the 21st century and we still have this kind of crap. It’s one thing when you here it on the news about a person getting hurt like this, but when it’s someone you know, it angers you more.

  • Jeff

    Henry You’e an ASSHOLE

  • Under One God

    God is being removed, so basically this is what our world is becoming, increasingly violent, the famines, disease etc. Christians, Muslim and Jewish will increasingly suffer the persecution of our religion unless we are united under our God and help to restore his Peace.

  • Kimi Wei

    Many Jews and non-Jews are not aware of this, but a centuries-long tradition in Christian dominated countries around the world is, that during troubled economic times when citizens are beleaguered by debt, uncertainty, hunger and homelessness they address those problems by unleashing savage violence against Jews in their community.

    Some people think that Jews dominate the world’s financial institutions and we are engineering the poverty of our Christian neighbors, but this is not true. In fact, members of the Bergen County Jewish community is suffering joblessness and poverty right along with everyone else. Most are not hungry or becoming homeless due to the support of others in the community making heavy personal sacrifices in order for friends and neighbors to eat and remain in their homes.

    • Henry

      So what you are saying is that jews only look out for their own. Got it.

      • Glenn Ferro

        Would you help someone who felt and spoke about you the way you do about the Jews?

        • Henry

          Yes. If they were right. Because I am a fair and impartial person.

      • aasas

        oh henry!!! dont be jealous cause a few jews have more money then you!!

  • ProFromDover

    What is wrong with people? Arson because of religious differences??

    • Michael

      The idea of “arson because of religious differences” has gone on for hundreds of years, unfortunately.

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