Patrols Increased After Bergen County Synagogue Attacks
Jewish leaders, officials met Thursday to discuss security
Law enforcement officials briefed more than 200 Jewish leaders Thursday on how to protect their synagogues, schools and community centers.
But when an attacker threw Molotov cocktails into a Rutherford rabbi's home Wednesday, the briefing took on a new urgency.
"Clearly, this ratcheted it up quite a great deal," said Joy Kurland, director of the JFNNJ Jewish Community Relations Council and the woman who organized the briefing.
Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan said after the briefing that law enforcement officials advised Jewish leaders on how to secure their buildings. Possible security measures ranged from high-tech solutions like cameras, security lighting and key-card access to simply remembering to lock the door, she said.
Officials also said to alert law enforcement about anything suspicious.
"Tell them what you know and they can continue to do their job to keep us all safe," Donovan said.
Congressman Steve Rothman said he asked police in Bergen County municipalities to increase patrols at houses of worship throughout the county, which local police chiefs have agreed to do, he said. Paramus Police Capt. Ken Ehrenberg said patrols have increased in town since an apparent arson at Congregation K'hal Adath Jeshurun on Arnot Place. Teaneck police have also been alerted to the incidents and Chief Robert Wilson attended the meeting.
Rabbi Nosson Schuman and his family, the targets of the Rutherford attack, are under police protection. Schuman said that though police told him a second attempt on his attack was unlikely, he was still on edge.
"The fear lives in me and I'm worried," the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth El in Rutherford said. "Who knows the sickness of these people? Because clearly they are sick."
Schuman is still processing the events of the last few days. He was asleep when multiple incendiary devices ignited his bedroom.
Once he saw the flames coming from multiple sources, he knew it wasn't an ordinary house fire.
"I knew that there were people at the bottom that hated me, and I hated them as well," Schuman said.
Donovan, Rothman, Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Scott Garrett, and Sen. Frank Lautenberg condemned the attacks in a press conference after the security briefing.
"The attack on the rabbi is an attack on me and you," Pascrell said.
Gov. Chris Christie also issued a statement Thursday condemning the attacks and announcing state Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa would meet with Jewish leaders and authorities in Trenton next week. State police and homeland security officials were also asked to attend Thursday's briefing.
“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 urge everyone in and outside of the Jewish community to be vigilant and wary but not intimidated by these events and to stand in unison against violent hatred like this.”