Bloomfield, NJ – Gov. Phil Murphy pledged his unrelenting support at a meeting Tuesday with Rabbi Marc Katz, Cantor Meredith Greenberg and congregants of Temple Ner Tamid. Murphy, joined by Attorney General Matt Platkin and Asaf Zamir, Israel’s consul general in New York, called the attempted arson attack that took place at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning “despicable, unacceptable.”
“It’s not who we are as a state or a country,” said Gov. Murphy. “We wanted to be here to show unequivocally that we have your back, that we will never relent, that we’re on your side of the table and that we’ll do everything we can to bring the perpetrator to justice.”
Whatever it takes, said Murphy, includes the full force of law enforcement at the state, county, local and federal level. He also praised Bloomfield Police department as well as Bloomfield Mayor Mike Venezia and Essex County’s Joe DiVincenzo, who were both in attendance.
Murphy spoke of how difficult the fight against anti-semitism has been.
“There’s never a moment when you tie the bow. You wish there is a moment that you tie the bow around the box and you put it aside. I fear we’re never going to have that,” said Murphy. “But we stay at it. We will never relent. And notwithstanding the rise of anti-Semitic behavior, it’s the joyous times that far outweigh those awful moments.”
Attorney General Platkin couldn’t comment on the investigation specifically, but said no resources were being spared and urged anyone with information, no matter how small, to come forward.
“We are aggressively working to identify and bring to justice the individual who is responsible for it. We know how dangerous these acts are, both the individual act, but also the message it sends out to the broader community. We’re sitting here at the end of a pretty ugly month in America, in Israel, and certainly here in New Jersey.”
Calling anti-semitism the most ancient form of hatred in the world, Consul General Zamir spoke of how the crime of hate at Temple Ner Tamid comes in a week where seven people lost their lives going to pray in a synagogue in Jerusalem and during a week where there was also International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Rabbi Katz reflected on a line that appears in the book of Numbers in the Torah, where Jewish people are called the people who dwell alone or dwell apart.
“And that’s become kind of a refrain throughout time as anti-Semitism has reared its head from generation after generation. Often you can feel incredibly lonely and apart from everyone else because of the hatred around you. And I have to say there’s a lot I’ve been feeling over these past number of days, but lonely is not one of them,” said Rabbi Katz.
“It feels like as much as the perpetrator was trying to make us feel like a people who dwell alone, in fact we are a people who are held by our community,” said Rabbi Katz. “I’m finding that people truly care. People paid attention. People in this room paid attention. People outside this room paid attention. Virtually every house of worship in all of Bloomfield and Montclair reached out and said, ‘we are here for you.'”
The meeting ended on an uplifting and hopeful note with Cantor Greenberg leading the room in song with a call to build the world from love.
On Thursday, the community will come together, joined by local and national leaders to stand up against hatred and come together in solidarity at an Interfaith Rally Against Hate at 6:30pm.