Hours after a firebomb was thrown into the window of a sleeping rabbi and his wife on the second floor of his synagogue, Congregation Beth El in Rutherford, NJ, the Orthodox Union Department of Community Engagement, which includes Synagogue Services, dispatched Yehuda Friedman, Associate Director of the Department, to the synagogue “to be supportive and to provide assistance to the shul from the OU,” according to Rabbi Judah Isaacs, Department Director.
The attack was the fourth incident in the last month targeting Bergen County synagogues in northern New Jersey.
“The OU always takes these heinous crimes seriously and wherever violence is perpetrated against a Jewish target in North America the OU will be there to support the local community,” declared Rabbi Steven Burg, OU Managing Director. “We are very happy there were no injuries but we are looking for local law enforcement and the FBI to apprehend the perpetrators as soon as possible.”
“These heinous acts of anti-Semitism are something we can’t sit by idly and observe”, said Josh Pruzansky, the OU’s New Jersey Director of Public Policy. “I reached out to the Governor’s office and asked for the Governor’s involvement. I was very encouraged by his strong condemnation and offers of support to bring these criminals to justice.”
According to Yehuda Friedman, “The family, Rabbi Nosson Schuman, his wife and children, were frightened and concerned for their safety but they remained strong and vigilant knowing that this is an opportunity to strengthen the community. Rabbi Schuman saw this as a chance to bring together the local religious groups, high schools and colleges to have a dialogue about the attack, about combating hatred and creating mutual respect,” Yehuda Friedman said.
“When we heard that this attack occurred we decided to take immediate action and to go there,” Mr. Friedman said. “It was important for the OU to take a stand against this deplorable act of anti-Semitism and hatred and to support Jewish institutions.”
“I told the rabbi, ‘The OU is here for your support, and to stand behind you, your family and community. We’ve been in touch with various agencies, including the Governor’s office, about this attack and it is being taken very seriously.”
The OU, through its Institute for Public Affairs, based in Washington, has been deeply involved in securing millions of dollars in Homeland Security funding for Jewish institutions. Mr. Friedman told Rabbi Schuman, “The IPA will be working with you to attempt to secure funds for lighting and surveillance equipment.”
Yehuda Friedman’s visit to the synagogue was shown on a page one photograph Friday in the Bergen Record newspaper. He also appeared on a report on the newscast of the New York CBS affiliate, WCBS-TV, Channel 2 .
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