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Police Searching for Suspect in Molotov Cocktail Synagogue Attack


A masked suspect is seen on security footage lighting and throwing a Molotov cocktail at Temple Ner Tamid, a synagogue in Bloomfield, N.J., on Jan. 29, 2023 (screengrab via Bloomfield Police Department).

Police in New Jersey are searching for the person they say tried to throw a firebomb at a synagogue early Sunday morning.

Security footage from Temple Ner Tamid shows a masked person dressed in black throwing a Molotov cocktail toward the front door of the synagogue at around 3:15 a.m. on Sunday, the Bloomfield Police Department said in a statement.

Police say they responded to a report of property damage at the temple at around 9:30 a.m., the statement said.

“Upon the officer’s arrival, it was quickly determined that a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the Temple’s front door,” the statement said.

Surveillance video “revealed one male suspect approached the front door at 3:19 a.m. with a Molotov cocktail,” police said. “He then lights it and throws it at the front door. The glass bottle broke but did not cause any damage to the Temple.”

The suspect then “fled down the driveway,” the statement added.

Police say the suspect is “believed to be a Caucasian male.”

Bloomfield police, which described the attack as a “bias incident” and “attempted arson,” released security footage of the suspect lighting and throwing the device. A different angle captures it shattering against a door to the building.

“We are currently actively investigating with the assistance of the FBI, ATF, Attorney General’s office, and the Essex County Sheriff’s Department and prosecutors office,” Bloomfield Police told Law&Crime. “We will be announcing a 10k reward shortly through a release and on social media outlets.”

A press release from the temple said that all Sunday activities were cancelled and that congregants should expect an “ongoing, heightened police presence into the week.”

Rabbi Marc Katz said in the press release that recent security upgrades, funded by a New Jersey Office of Homeland Security grant, protected the synagogue from serious damage.

“We have and will continue to do everything in our power to keep our community safe,” Katz said. “Everything worked as it should. Our cameras recorded the incident and our shatter-resistant doors held.”

“But what I cannot do, is convince our community not to grow despondent,” the statement continued. “There is hate everywhere, and hate wins when we let it penetrate. When the weight of this grows too heavy, I remind my congregation that every day, despite what is happening, in Jewish communities around the world, babies are named, children are educated, people are married. Our religious traditions continue. No act of hate can stop the power of religious freedom.”

Ner Tamid is a reform temple that serves more than 500 families. According to the temple’s website, the congregation’s members “connect with their heritage while thinking progressively about the present.”

Local law enforcement officials as well as officials from the FBI and ATF are investigating.

New Jersey officials condemned the attack, the latest in a string of antisemitic incidents on Jewish organizations and people in recent years.

“Let me be clear: there is no place for violence or hate in New Jersey and I strongly condemn these acts,” Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said in a statement on Sunday.

“Although I am grateful that damage was minimal and no one was injured, I am heartbroken and angry today,” New Jersey Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill said in a statement. “Anti-Semitic hatred is on the rise in our state, our country, and around the world, and we all must work together to eradicate it. Our Jewish neighbors are beloved community members — friends, loved ones, and leaders. Attacks against them are attacks against all of us, and we all have a responsibility to stand up against anti-Semitism wherever it rears its head.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include excerpts from a press release from Temple Ner Tamid.

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