Rabbi Ken Stern has inspected the security cameras circling the building and its parking lot off Anderson Avenue.
“If anything happens, we want a good picture of the perpetrator or perpetrators,” he confided, citing the arrest in New York last week of a man who set firebombs at Islamic centers there, and was caught by surveillance cameras.
The Interfaith community of Bergen County rallied, along with local residents, with an interfaith service, “Spread Light in Maywood,” at Reconstructionist Temple Beth Israel, on December 20. The synagogue was defaced with anti-semitic slurs and grafitti.
Held on the First night of Hannukah, Sikhs, Hindus, Christians, Baha’is and Muslims joined Rabbi Jarah Greenfield, local residents, the incoming and outgoing Mayors of Maywood and law enforcement representatives in first lighting one candle, then spreading its light to another and another, until the cozy, wood paneled synagogue was filled with candlelight – and hope.
That hope was soon dashed within a few days, when Temple Beth El in neighboring Hackensack was victimized.
In response to the second attack, Rabbi Stern joined a service of Re-dedication at Temple Beth El, on December 27, just one week after the Maywood ceremony. There, the Reverend Gregory Jackson, pastor of Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Hackensack, stressed the importance of interfaith understanding to prevent ignorance and violence.
Despite being held on a night of drenching rain, the temple was filled with members of many faiths and ethnicities.
Then, within a week, in the opening days of 2012, Congregation K’hal Adath Jeshrun in Paramus was firebombed.
“This seems to be related,” said Ilene McGrath, a Leonia resident and member of Fort Lee’s Gesher Shalom who attended the rededication service in Hackensack. McGrath says at first she thought there was only one isolated incident, but she fears something more serious is involved.
Levent Koc, of the Peace Islands Institute, representing Turkish residents of this area, many of whom are Muslim, said in an email, “We have been a part of the support for the Jewish Community and spoken against the recent racist violence against the 3 synagogues.”
“We condemn this hatred and violence in the strongest terms. We condemn anti-Semitism and acts of any violence or hatred directed at any religious and ethnic community," said Koc.
A meeting is scheduled for Thursday at the Jewish Federation of Bergen County in Paramus to discuss further action to educate, rather than condemn, those who perpetrate this kind of violence, says Joy Kurland of the Jewish Community Relations Council.