Authorities Think Rov, Talmid of Yeshivas Chaim Berlin, Was Targeted In Rutherford Firebomb Attack

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Authorities are investigating a firebombing of a northern New Jersey home attached to a shul as attempted murder and bias-related arson.

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

Rabbi Nosson Schuman, who learned for nine years at Yeshivas Rabbeinu Chaim Berlin, and his wife say someone threw an explosive device through the bedroom window of their home on the second floor of the Beth El shul 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.

“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 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.

Several molotov cocktails and lit aerosol cans were hurled at the building, which also houses a school.

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

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.

Officials say whoever did this was targeting Schuman.

“At this point it’s not just a hate crime and a bias crime. It’s now an attempted murder,” said Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli.

Schuman 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.

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.

{1010 WINS NY/ Newscenter}


  1. Was he ever a Rov in Southern California?

    p.s. What’s the Shiechus that he learn’t in Chaim Berlin? And if he learn’t in KBY, would it be any different?

  2. 1 & 2 What u so angry about?

    It is the norm to relate where a Rav is a musmach from.. Just gives u an inkling of who the Rav is and where is connection is to?

  3. He used to be the Rabbi in Santa Barbara, CA… Extremely special Rav and family. A lot of Jews owe a lot to the Schumans. Hard to imagine anyone specifically targeting them.

  4. Berliner, it does not. Neither does the ages of people, which are also often included. For that matter, neither does his picture. They simply are identifiers.

  5. #5: for those Jew hating molotov cocktail throwers, he was a perfect target. hate group members gain a lot of respect from their peers by killing not just Jews, but important influential ones. Hashem yishmorainu. legal fireams are a good deterrent in these situations…

  6. 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.


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