Christie: I Won’t Stand for Attacks On Jewish Community

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chris-christie1County and federal law enforcement continued to investigate a firebombing at a Rutherford shul today, while borough religious leaders planned to show their solidarity against hate crimes.

“We take civil rights violations very seriously,” said Rebekah Carmichael, public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey in an email in response to the crime being a looked at as a federal case. “The FBI is looking at this, we are looking at this, and we will coordinate with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office to determine the best way forward.”

Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli said there were no new developments on the investigation to report Thursday.

Sen. Robert Menendez on Thursday wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging the Department of Justice to “fully investigate” the attacks on the synagogues.

“I have urged the Attorney General to commit additional resources to this investigation,” Menendez said in a statement. “The repeated and dangerous attacks need to be addressed immediately so that families in New Jersey, regardless of their religious affiliation, can rest assured that they can be safe and thrive in the Garden State.”

Governor Christie also condemned the attacks.

“Clearly there is a purposeful campaign by one or more persons to do bodily injury to members of the Jewish community in Bergen County,” Christie said. “I will not stand for it.”

Congregation leaders said they want to turn the attention of the Wednesday attack toward a discussion about the ignorance that fuels such violence.

“Accentuating the negative will never produce a lasting beneficial effect,” said Larry Goldberg, president of the congregation. “We’ll become the more widely-known victim – that doesn’t help. Whoever is responsible for it will grow in their own minds as having achieved some greater notoriety. Having achieved some sort of positive effect is what we’re hoping for.”

The congregation now plans to move forward and meet with the Borough Council, the mayor and the police.

Rutherford Mayor Joseph DeSalvo said he wants to meet with synagogue leaders.

“We want an open dialogue with them, and to see what their needs are,” he said. “This has never happened in Rutherford and we have to have open dialogue with all of our religious institutions to find out what their concerns are.”

Police have been stationed outside the Montross Avenue synagogue since the attack. The temple also serves as the residence of the rabbi, his wife, five children, his father and another relative.

Authorities said a Molotov cocktail was tossed into an upper floor bedroom igniting the rabbi’s bedspread, carpet and bedroom window. Schuman’s left hand was burned when he extinguished the flames, authorities said. Police believe more than one person threw the hand held devices, which also included lighted aerosol cans tossed at the building.

“It was like a dragon fire through the window spraying all over the blankets and window,” Schuman said Thursday. “The first thing was to suffocate the fire.”

The rabbi said he didn’t know why his synagogue and home were targeted, saying he hasn’t had any recent disagreements with anyone.

“I don’t know why I was chosen,” he said. “We all have situations in life where things happen to us.”

The morning of the attack, he said, he didn’t see anyone leaving or hear a car engine.

One of the rabbi’s daughters, Menuchah Schuman, said she at first thought someone had broken into her home.

“I heard my dad yell, ‘fire, fire, fire,'” said the 15-year-old who was studying for a midterm exam when the home was attacked at 4:40 a.m. “My mom called 911 informing them of the attack, but I was afraid to go outside. I’m lucky to be alive.”

Munuchah said she chose not to attend school Thursday.

“It bothers me we were attacked because of our religion,” she said. “They tried hurting my family, but God protected us.”

The rabbi said he and his wife, Pessy, had a difficult night sleeping following the firebombing. Pessy Schuman, posted her worries on Facebook in the morning hours.

“Can’t sleep, I keep wondering if the cops outside are awake and vigilant,” she wrote about 3 a.m. “I keep waiting for the next bomb to fly in through my window. I hate windows.”

The rabbi said he wants the perpetrators jailed so they suffer and think about their crimes.

“These criminals instilled terror in the Jewish community,” he said. “I’m sure everyone is shook up and they achieved their goals.”

Before the Rutherford attack, on Jan. 3, authorities said, an accelerant was used to start a fire in the rear of the Congregation K’hal Adath Jeshurun in Paramus. That incident came weeks after anti-Semitic graffiti were found at the Reconstructionist Temple Beth Israel of Bergen County in Maywood and Temple Beth El in Hackensack. Police believe the graffiti incidents are linked, but authorities have said the graffiti incidents don’t appear to be connected to the Paramus fire.

Congregation Beth El plans to hold its usual services and classes, and its school was back in session Thursday morning.

Schuman said he is looking forward to the unity gathering on Saturday.

“That’s what’s lacking in this country,” Schuman said. “A lot of people are complaining that the country is divided. Hopefully something like this can make us united.”

{North Jersey/Matzav.com Newscenter}

5 COMMENTS

  1. perhaps we have gotten hashems message yet or not? are we going to continue watching anti-semitsm grow even in the free country of the USA & just say its coincidence OR is it a message from Hashem for all of klal yisroel to make aliyah NOW towards the geula & mashiach? BEFORE HASHEM NEEDS TO MAKE THINGS WORSE C”V

  2. perhaps we have gotten hashems message yet or not? are we going to continue watching anti-semitsm grow even in the free country of the USA & just say its coincidence OR is it a message from Hashem for all of klal yisroel to make aliyah NOW towards the geula & mashiach? BEFORE HASHEM NEEDS TO MAKE THINGS WORSE C”V

    I agree

  3. “That’s what’s lacking in this country,” Schuman said. “A lot of people are complaining that the country is divided. Hopefully something like this can make us united.”

    Exactly! You can thank Obama for that!

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