Anti-Semitic attacks in New Jersey leave questions, raise worries
January 12th, 2012
09:25 PM ET

Anti-Semitic attacks in New Jersey leave questions, raise worries

By Ronni Berke, CNN

New York (CNN) - Synagogues firebombed and defaced by graffiti. Windows smashed at shops owned by Jewish merchants. Is anti-Semitism on the rise?

The FBI is investigating a rash of anti-Semitic attacks in northern New Jersey, including the attempted murder of a rabbi after incendiary devices were thrown at his home above a synagogue.

Rabbi Nosson Schuman suffered minor burns in the incident Wednesday at Beth El Synagogue in Rutherford.

It was the fourth anti-Semitic incident in the past month in Bergen County. On January 4, a Paramus synagogue was hit by an arson attack, and in December, two temples were vandalized.

No arrests have been made. "We don't know if we're looking at one person or a group of people," said Bryan Travers of the FBI's Newark division.

In November, vandals smashed windows at five stores owned by Jewish merchants in Middlesex County.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie condemned the recent synagogue attacks. "I will not stand for it, and we will summon all necessary law enforcement resources to identify and prosecute those responsible," Christie said in a statement.

The Anti-Defamation League, which catalogs anti-Semitic incidents nationwide, is urging law enforcement authorities to step up security around synagogues. It's offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of those involved in the Bergen County attacks.

But Jewish leaders and scholars contacted by CNN could only speculate on why there is a surge in anti-Semitic incidents in the Northeast.

"This year, it did go up, but I'm not ready to draw any conclusions," said Ken Jacobson, the ADL's deputy national director.

But Jacobson said he was concerned about the spike in attacks in New Jersey. "The surge of these incidents in a short period of time in New Jersey is not a conventional kind of thing," Jacobson said.

The type of incident is also alarming, he said. A rabbi attacked in his home is far more worrying than a swastika scrawled on a door. "We are watching very closely," he said.

Economic insecurity and polarization "create the kind of atmosphere where people act out," he said.

According to a November survey by the ADL, 15% of Americans hold deeply anti-Semitic views; that figure stood at 12% in the 2009 survey.

In the poll, 19% of respondents answered "probably true" to the statement: "Jews have too much control/influence on Wall Street." The theme of the "miserly Jew," as personified by Shakespeare's Shylock, is common in anti-Semitism.

"There's a persistent economic theme of the Jew not just as miserly but as economically parasitical," says Derek Penslar, Samuel Zacks Professor of Jewish History at the University of Toronto, and author of "Shylock's Children."

In the 1930s, anti-Semitism was "visible, public and people did not try to hide it," Penslar said. "Jewish bankers were often accused of fomenting wars." Things are much better now, he added. "There seems to be a change in the United States in how Jews are accepted."

Penslar is not convinced that the economic downturn is the main cause of anti-Semitic attacks.

"Things were much worse in 2008 and 2009. I was expecting something then.

"My sense is more often than not what's happening now is related to Middle Eastern politics." Namely, the stalemate about Israel, Penslar says.

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center cited FBI statistics showing an actual decrease in hate crime incidents against Jews during the most recent recession.

"I don't think there are any obvious explanations," Potok says. "It may be there is a small number of people who are attacking repeatedly, and that just says you have a few very active anti-Semites out there."

Nationwide, the FBI reported 887 such incidents in 2010, compared with 1013 in 2008.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Judaism • Violence

soundoff (459 Responses)
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    April 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  6. LePhantom

    Get Israel off the American taxpayers' dole..... problem solved.

    January 30, 2012 at 2:02 am |
  7. Lyudmila Fomova

    Everything that is causing a disturbance is bad. Either graffities, or hierarchial type of behavior, which is obvious for many Jewish people to be shown.

    January 28, 2012 at 1:00 am |
  8. AngryJew

    Jews and Palestinians both deserve to live in peace and security. Without someone attacking them or stealing their land.

    January 16, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  9. Stormfront

    I'm failing to see the problem. Ki-kes get what they deserve.

    January 15, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  10. AGuest9

    I don't agree with violence or vandalism. HOWEVER, if you work in retail in Jersey, keep your eyes open. Haggling like you have never seen goes on there!!!

    January 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • dude

      Brian runs to the Beard Seller's stall and hurriedly grabs an artificial beard.

      How much? Quick!
      Beard Seller:
      It's for the wife.
      Beard Seller:
      Oh. Twenty shekels.
      Beard Seller:
      (putting the money down) There you are...
      Beard Seller:
      Wait a moment.
      Beard Seller:
      We're supposed to haggle.
      No, no — I've got to...
      Beard Seller:
      What do you mean, 'no'?
      I haven't time — I've got to get...
      Beard Seller:
      Give it back then.
      No, no — I paid you.
      Beard Seller:
      (calls) Bert!

      Bert, a massive man, appears.

      Beard Seller:
      This bloke won't haggle.
      (looks around) Where are the guards?
      Oh all right — I mean, do we have to...
      Beard Seller:
      Now I want twenty for that...
      I gave you twenty!
      Beard Seller:
      Now are you telling me that's not worth twenty shekels?
      Beard Seller:
      Feel the quality, that's none of yer goat..
      Oh — I'll give you nineteen, then...
      Beard Seller:
      No, no. Do it properly.
      Beard Seller:
      Haggle properly. This isn't worth nineteen.
      You just said it was worth twenty!
      Beard Seller:
      I'll give you ten...
      Beard Seller:
      That's more like it (Angrily) Ten? Are you trying to insult me? Me? With a poor dying grandmother...? Ten?!
      Beard Seller:
      Now you're getting it. Eleven? Did I hear you right? Eleven?? This cost me twelve — d'you want to ruin me?
      Beard Seller
      Beard Seller:
      No, no, no — you go to fourteen now!
      Beard Seller:
      Fourteen? Are you joking>
      That's what you told me to say! (desperate) Tell me what to say, please!
      Beard Seller:
      Offer me fourteen.
      I'll give you fourteen.
      Beard Seller:
      (to the onlookers) He's offering me fourteen for this!
      Beard Seller:
      Seventeen. My last word. I won't take a penny less, or strike me dead.
      Beard Seller:
      Done! (shaking Brian's hand)Nice to do business with you. Tell you what, I'll throw in this as well. (Gives Brian a gourd)
      I don't want it, but thanks.
      Beard Seller:
      (appearing rapidly) Yes?
      All right! All right!! Thank you.
      Beard Seller:
      Where's the sixteen then?
      I already gave you twenty.
      Beard Seller:
      Oh yes ... that's four I owe you then. (starts looking for change)
      ... It's all right, it doesn't matter.
      Beard Seller:
      Hang on.

      A pause while the Beard Seller tries to find change. Brian sees a pair of patrolling Roman soldiers.

      It's all right, that's four for the gourd — that's fine!
      Beard Seller:
      Four for the gourd. Four!! Look at it, that's worth ten if it's worth a shekel.
      You just gave it to me for nothing!
      Beard Seller:
      Yes, but it's worth ten.
      All right, all right.
      Beard Seller:
      No, no, no. It's not worth ten. You're supposed to argue. 'What? Ten for that? You must be mad!'

      Brian pays ten and runs off with the gourd, fixing the beard on his face.

      Beard Seller:
      Ah well, there's one born every minute.

      January 14, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  11. pooh2

    Find them and lock them up, those hooligans.

    January 13, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  12. A Brit in the US

    The Left handed Swastika was the NAZI Symbol. The Right Handed Swastika was the Hindu symbol with was also found in Veitnam on gravestones which were then machinegunned by Ignorant GI's who had not paid attention to orientation and on the Question on Anti semetic Christians who are happy to forget that Jesus was Born a Jew , lived as a Jew and yes Died a Jew! Christianity is a extreme Right wing Jewish sect. folks forget this Glass House Stones etc !

    January 13, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • rzzzll

      Yes Christians and Muslims are Jewish heretics essentially. So yes all of you bow down to the ONE INDIVISIBLE TRUE LORD, HASHEM MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE. Or at the very least respect the fact that your religions are at the core ripped off from Judaism, and attacking Jews is ridiculous, since without them you have no Islam or Christianity. I'm not advocating burning people at the stake because they're heretics one way or the other. Just pointing out a religious view on that.

      January 15, 2012 at 12:57 am |
  13. ctvince

    What a shame that this crap still goes on. There is one truth in it all. Call yourself what you will. You are either a follower of the light or of the darkness. Those that sow hatred and chaos will reap it now or later. Those that embrace all of humanity positively charitably and openly will live in ultimate peace with the world seen and unseen...

    January 13, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • AGuest9

      So, a "follower of the light" would also include a follower of none?

      January 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
  14. Thomas Klimchuk

    O course anti Semitism is on the rise there are a lot more muslims living here

    January 13, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • Shariq

      nice try, but I highly doubt Muslims are behind any of this. I'm a muslim and I love my friends that are jewish.
      See, being the target of hatred in the US by people like you, for the past 10 years has shown me just how hard it can be and how strong you have to be to ignore people and comments like yours. Normally, I would say I hope you never have to go through some of the things that I have, but maybe it is just what, you and whatever "your people" identify with, you need..
      -Stop being a hater, we are all American, get over it. E. PLURIBUS UNUM.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Mary had a little nail that she stabbed jesus in the throat with and her hands were red with blood.


      Not if you're muslim.

      January 13, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • dude

      Shariq I'm not a muslim but I consider you to be a fellow American. Deranged Mary, sadly, is also an American however. Ironically, America's greatness was not achieved by those who are most proud of it. These sub-normals have nothing to feel good about themselves so they wrap themselves in the flag and seek to take credit for the actions of truly great men and women so they won't have to confront their own relative lack of worth. This is just human nature.

      January 14, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  15. Klaus

    6 million more, please.

    But finish the job this time.

    January 13, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
    • RL

      What did a Jew ever do to you? My first guess would be that one was smarter than you, but that would be obvious considering the comment that you posted.

      January 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Sadie Burton

      Your hatred will consume you. Life's too short.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  16. Reality

    It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

    January 13, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • Ironicus

      You sound like the perfect man for the job, too! How did that happen?

      January 13, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • gort01

      after seeing the pics of the jewish men spitting on little girls and their moms.,,,,i have no sympathy for any jewish person that "feels" they are being persecuted,,,,the jews didnt rise up and speak up for the the little girls did they....

      January 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • KrisInAustinTX

      Yes, it is very disturbing that religious narrow-mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. The worst offenders of this century are the Zionists and the people who blindly follow the Zionist belief system....if only they knew the truth about what is happening in Palestine....if only they knew the truth about the history of Zionism.

      January 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Reality

      o http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html
      Religion…………… Adherents

      Christianity ……………………..2.1 billion

      Islam…………………………… 1.5 billion

      Irreligious/agnostic/atheism .....1.1 billion

      Hinduism 900 million
      Chinese traditional religion 394 million
      Buddhism 376 million
      Animist religions 300 million
      African traditional/diasporic religions 100 million
      Sikhism 23 million
      Juche 19 million
      Spiritism 15 million

      Judaism…………………………………….. 14 million

      Baha'i 7 million
      Jainism 4.2 million
      Shinto 4 million
      Cao Dai 4 million
      Zoroastrianism 2.6 million
      Tenrikyo 2 million
      Neo-Paganism 1 million
      Unitarian Universalism 800,000
      Rastafari Movement 600,000

      January 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • .........

      As always the best response to reality bull sh it is to hit report abuse on all of it

      January 13, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  17. Portland tony

    @Chuckles... Sorry ..I wasn't referring to the Jersey case..which appears much more like a HATE thing!

    January 13, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Chuckles

      It's cool, but I stil disagree on a general national scale. Swastika's aren't drawn by bored teenagers to get a rise out of the community. I don't think this is true in this case or most cases in the US. The one exception might have been in my town where some (presumably) skinheads went to vandalize and tag a JCC but must have gotten mixed up and did all of it across the street from the JCC...... on a church (as if the big as.s cross at the top wasn't a tip off?). I have a feeling though that it was idiots being really big idiots.

      January 13, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  18. crazuki

    Please.... Swastika is a Hindu holy symbol. It has nothing to do with antisemitism.

    January 13, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      My Hindu neighbours have a big one painted on their driveway, alongside many other symbols!

      January 13, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Kev

      So you're saying that a swastika painted on to a door of a Jewish home or synagogue is not antisemitical?

      January 13, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Chuckles

      Call me crazy but something tells me that when a person draws a swastika on a syngagoue next to some graffiti, breaks windows and tries to kill a rabbi I think it points towards the antisemetic swastika, not the hindu symbol. I could totally be reading that wrong though

      January 13, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • SeanNJ

      @Chuckles: I think their intentions were just misunderstood. *smirk*

      January 13, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Chuckles


      Maybe it was supposed to be like "Hey jews! This is what people used to say about you! Good Luck (Swastika symbol)!"

      January 13, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And a burning cross on the lawn is just a neighbourly way of helping when someone's porch light goes out.

      January 13, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • SeanNJ

      @Chuckles: Maybe a confluence of circumstance. For your consideration:

      1) The rabbi yells at a group of kids ("Get off my lawn, you whippersnappers!"). They come back with spray-paint cans and do the graffiti.
      2) A group of well-meaning hindus sees said graffiti, and adds the swastika as a wish for good luck.
      3) A group of out-of-town jews see the graffiti and the swastika and think, "AHHHHH! Neo-Nazi stronghold!" They throw a Molotov cocktail through the window.

      I mean stranger things have happened. I heard a dead guy came back to life once.

      January 13, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • Portland tony

      I would guess that the majority of swastikas painted in public view were done by bored teenagers who know they can get a big rise out of the public for 5 minutes of vandalism. The real sociopaths,the haters, burn, destroy, cause pain and even kill. Anyone filled with hate is not gonna be satisfied by drawing a cross with a can of spray paint and walking away.

      January 13, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • RillyKewl

      I just wanna tell Sean + Chuckles thanks.
      The story was getting me so upset + outraged, then I read the Hindu's crazy reply... Its a good thing you guys were there.
      Thanks, I needed that!

      January 13, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • RillyKewl

      and Doc Vestibule's joke was funny too.

      January 13, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Ironicus

      I laughed. Good comedic relief there, guys!

      January 13, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Chuckles


      I wonder what other events in history were just misunderstandings ... Someone tells Hitler that Poland is nice in September and should go take a look. Rosa Parks sits at the front of the bus for a second because she has a pebble in shoe. Trotsky was in south America when he goes through a series of Three Stooges like accidents and lands up with an icepick in the head.

      @Portland Tony

      I honestly don't understand why people will point to bored teenagers as culprits in hate crimes. Graffiti and vandalism sure, but this particular type of graffiti and vandalism has a message, it's not just to get a rise out of the community. To think that is taking away from the seriousness and giving the perpetrators who did this way more lee-way then they deserve.

      January 13, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • boocat

      You're wrong. It's a mirror image (backwards) of the swastika that you are referring to.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  19. Reality

    Some horrific WW2 reminders from


    Auschwitz, Poland (German death camp: Jan. 1942-Jan. 1945): 1 200 000

    US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Historical Atlas of the Holocaust and http://www.ushmm.org
    Jews: 1,100,000
    Poles: 75,000
    Roma: 21,000
    Soviet POWs: 15,000
    Norman Davies: 1,200,000-1,500,000 victims, of which 800,000-1,100,000 Jews
    European War Dead (1939-45): 28,736,000
    Sino-Ja-panese War Dead (1937-45): 7,140,000

    War-related Democides

    Hitler: 20,946,000
    Stalin: 13,053,000
    Ja-panese: 5,964,000
    Chinese Nationalist: 5,907,000
    Allied Bombing: 796,000
    Croatian: 655,000
    T-ito: 600,000
    Romanian domestic democide: 484,000
    Chinese Communist: 250,000
    Hungarian democide in Yugoslavia: 78,000

    [TOTAL: 48,733,000]

    [TOTAL OF BOTH (1937-45): 84,609,000]

    January 13, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Ironicus

      Okay, that's just a messed-up and un-readable mess, Reality. Time to toss that post in the garbage and re-write the whole thing.

      When one death is a tragedy, millions of deaths are a statistical nightmare of epic proportions.

      Your post is a nightmare of unclear references, unlabeled statistics, and makes no actual point or argument.
      It isn't even on topic. Consider yourself kicked in the shins. ...and quit tossing off-topic dumps of unreviewed material here if you would be so kind!!! Is it so hard to check these things before you post? I mean really.

      January 13, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Reality

      Not off topic and the death statistics are published at M. White's new home page, http://necrometrics.com/pre1700a.htm.:

      January 13, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Ironicus

      Um, no..it really is off-topic. You could have tied these statistics in, but you just dumped them without any lead-in, tie-in, or anything to suggest you were trying to make a point or argument.
      But that's okay. We all have our little foibles.
      I just prefer comprehensive readable statements over disjointed lists or statistics that lack proper headings or descriptions, that's all. What good is re-iteration when there is nothing to re-iterate but empty random content? It's not how you usually make posts so I thought I'd kick your shins a bit. Nothing personal about kicking you in the shins, is there? lol

      January 13, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • Reality

      The topic is about crimes of hate. It is obvious to rational thinkers that the list presented shows the results of uncontrolled crimes of hate.

      January 14, 2012 at 8:22 am |
    • Ironicus

      I think that if they were crimes of hate they weren't controlled to begin with.
      And it is only slightly apparent that your list is about general hate crimes.
      If it were obvious I wouldn't have complained in the first place.

      January 14, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Steve button

      Pure rubbish....approx. 160 000 Jews died from ALL causes during WW2...see European census fig. for 1938–and then for 1945-46.

      If you're still in doubt check Soviet archived info....

      June 25, 2013 at 10:30 am |
  20. Portland tony

    I can't believe 15% of Americans strongly dislike Jews. The stereotypes of Shylock are gone. The evangelicals embrace Israel. Most Jew's are mainstream Americans etc...What's to hate..?

    January 13, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      80% of the people who say they strongly dislike jews are white christians.

      January 13, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • boocat

      It's " evangelical christians" that I dislike. They are nothing but arrogant bigots.

      January 13, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Steve button

      Wake up, Tony.

      We have....

      June 25, 2013 at 10:31 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.