Prosecutor: NJ Synagogue Residence Firebombed

By Salon Staff

Published January 11, 2012 5:54PM (EST)

RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — An early morning fire at a synagogue in northern New Jersey was caused by several Molotov cocktails and other incendiary devices thrown through a second-floor window, Bergen County's prosecutor said Wednesday.

Prosecutor John Molinelli said the incident is being investigated as an attempted murder and bias-related arson. Molinelli said lit aerosol cans also were used in the attack.

The fire occurred at Congregation Beth El at about 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. It's the latest in a series of incidents targeting synagogues in Bergen County. Molinelli didn't say whether Wednesday's incident is related.

Rabbi Nosson Schuman told CBS 880 Radio that he saw a flash of fire outside his bedroom window before his bedspread caught fire. The rabbi said he got his wife and five children out of the building safely.

The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office was scheduled to hold an afternoon news conference Wednesday.

Within the last three weeks, a fire was intentionally set at a synagogue in Paramus and anti-Semitic graffiti was discovered at synagogues in Hackensack and Maywood.

Law enforcement and representatives from more than 80 synagogues and Jewish day schools had been scheduled to discuss the incidents on Thursday.

The synagogues in Maywood and Hackensack are about a mile apart. The other two are within about seven miles of each other in Bergen County, just across the Hudson River from New York City and near the Meadowlands sports complex.

The fire at Congregation K'Hal Adath Jeshuran in Paramus was discovered on the morning of Jan. 3 when members smelled gas in the building and contacted authorities. Fire and police officials determined an accelerant had been used in the rear of the building to start a fire. The fire had quickly burned itself out, and no injuries were reported. No arrests have been made.


Associated Press Writer David Porter in Newark contributed to this story.

Salon Staff

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