New Jersey shul, site of attempted firebombing, hosts interfaith rally

(JNS) The site of an attempted firebombing on Jan. 29 hosted an interfaith rally against hate Thursday night, Feb. 2. 

“Over the past few weeks, many of our communities have been suffering. Hate is pervasive throughout our society,” Temple Ner Tamid, a Reform house of worship in Bloomfield, N.J., stated in an announcement.

“This month has been hard for all of us. The Jewish community is healing from the attempted arson on Temple Ner Tamid, the nation was shocked by the murder of Tyre Nichols, and the BIPOC, AAPI, and LGBTQ+ communities are also struggling in their own way with local and national attacks on their identity and wellbeing,” it added.

On Wednesday, the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey announced the arrest of 26-year-old Nicholas Malindretos for “attempting to firebomb” a synagogue. Malindretos was charged with one count of “attempted use of fire to damage and destroy a building used in interstate commerce.”

“No one should find that their lives are at risk by exercising their faith,” Philip Sellinger, U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, said in a statement.

“Protecting communities of faith and houses of worship is core to this office’s mission,” Sellinger said. “We will continue to devote whatever resources are necessary to keep our Jewish community and all New Jersey residents safe.”

James Dennehy, FBI special agent in charge, said one of the synagogue’s surveillance cameras caught someone—clad in a ski mask, dark pants and shoes, white gloves and a dark sweatshirt—approaching the building at 3:19 a.m. on Jan. 29. The shirt had a white emblem, which appeared to be a skull and crossbones.

According to the agent, the video showed the individual pause at the front entrance and light a wick atop a bottle. He threw the lit bottle at the front, glass doors and then fled. A license-plate reading device nearby recorded the appearance of a vehicle shortly before 3:19 a.m. and shortly after the incident.

Law enforcement found several items “consistent with the video of the incident plainly visible inside” when they found the vehicle. After securing a search warrant for the vehicle, they found items that led them to Malindretos, expected in court Thursday.

If convicted, Malindretos faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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