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DV Pilot police & fire

Arsonists targeted Rutherford rabbi with Molotov cocktails, authorities believe

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

EXCLUSIVE REPORT: The FBI has entered an investigation into a pair of what are now believed to be related attacks on Jewish temples in Bergen County, the most serious occurring early this morning when one of four or five Molotov cocktails crashed through the bedroom window of  a rabbi who lives upstairs from his Rutherford synagogue with his wife and five children, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned.

Ladder used by investigators to get to the roof remained late this morning (CLIFFVIEW PILOT photo)

Investigators believe Rabbi Nosson Schuman was specifically targeted in the 4:30 a.m. attack, which would mean attempted murder counts – along with aggravated arson – if someone is arrested and charged, a law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the incident told CLIFFVIEW PILOT .

“If those devices were meant for the temple or the school [downstairs], they wouldn’t have been thrown up at the second floor,” the source told the news website. “A few of the devices landed on the roof, and one broke through the bedroom window glass and landed inside.”

Police also found another that hadn’t ignited, CLIFFVIEW PILOT has learned. It is being examined for evidence.

The fire was confined to the bedroom, authorities said. Schuman, who lived with his father, Nosson Sr., at the Montrose Avenue building, told police he quickly extinguished the blaze with a water can.

Rabbi Nosson Schuman



And although he reportedly was burned on one of his hands, the rabbi was back at the scene this morning.

“Although we were the latest recipients of Hate crimes this morning, with G-d’s help, the fire damage was held to a minimum and the family is fine,” he wrote in a Facebook posting.

Schuman, who has held open houses at the school, has called it “an ‘out of town’ shul with all the ‘in town’ amenities.”

There have been two anti-Semitic graffiti attacks and another arson, all at different Jewish institutions in Bergen County, in recent weeks. All of the incidents, including this morning’s, are being considered as bias crimes.

A law enforcement source told CLIFFVIEW PILOT that investigators believe this morning’s attack at Congregation Beth El is the same work of the arsonist who set a small fire behind Congregation K’hal Adath Jeshurun in Paramus earlier this month. The graffiti incidents appear unrelated.

Although people commonly know of Molotov cocktails as bottles filled with gas and ignited by a kerosene-soaked wick stuffed into the mouth, some devices instead involve a chemical or gel and gasoline mix that ignites when the container breaks.

Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli has scheduled a news conference for this afternoon, although he hasn’t said what aspect of the attacks he intends to discuss.





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