Rep. Steven Rothman, second right, and Sen. Paul Sarlo, second left, listen with other officials in Hackensack, New Jersey, as Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli, centre, explains what happened
Children's playground: Bergen County officials walk on the ground of Congregation Beth El as authorities investigate an early morning fire on Wednesday in Rutherford, New Jersey
RUTHERFORD - Authorities suspect that more than one person may be behind a series of attacks on synagogues in New Jersey.
The latest incident happened overnight Wednesday, when a rabbi's residence in Rutherford was fire bombed.
Now, religious leaders are holding a special meeting on security.
One day after the attack on Rabbi Nosson Schuman, his family, their home and house of worship, police are on guard outside Congregation Beth-El on Montross Avenue.
"It was almost like a dragon's breath," Rabbi Schuman said.
Rabbi Schuman is nursing burns to his hand, suffered trying to smother flames after the firebomb tossed into the bedroom of their home, all this while his wife roused his parents and five children and ran from the flames.
"Looks like a wall of fire that comes burning in," Pessy Schuman, the rabbi's wife, said. "It's an explosion, and it's an instant wall of fire."
The attack in Bergen County prompted New Jersey's branch of the Anti-Defamation League to issue a warning that every synagogue must take extra steps to protect its constituents and building.
Since early December, there have been four incidents, in Maywood, Hackensack, Paramus and now Rutherford. There's no clear evidence they're all related, but officials are taking it very seriously.
"This is certainly a hate crime," Bergen County prosecutor John Molinelli said. "This is certainly a bias crime. This is aggravated arson, but most importantly, we're now looking on this as an attempted homicide."
Molinelli said there was nothing to suggest that the rabbi had been personally targeted, but that nothing had been ruled out so far as the investigation was continuing.
"If you attack one religious faith, you're really attacking every faith," Congressman Steve Rothman said. "We must unite as a community."
Law enforcement and representatives from more than 80 synagogues and Jewish day schools had planned to discuss the incidents on Thursday. Meeting organizer Joy Kurland of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey said the meeting would go on as planned.
Etzion Neuer of the Anti-Defamation League, which has offered a $2,500 award for the arrest and conviction of a suspect, said they were very concerned that there had been four bias incidents in such a short period of time.