Two days after a man, his face mostly obscured by a ski mask, hurled a Molotov cocktail at the front door of Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, Gov. Phil Murphy visited the place of worship to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community. 

Ner Tamid's congregation includes 540 families, with a large contingent from Montclair.

The attack is “absolutely despicable,” Murphy told a press pool Tuesday night after meeting privately with Ner Tamid congregants inside the temple.

“Unfortunately, the amount of antisemitic actions in New Jersey is almost exploding,” Murphy said. “And I wish I could say that it were better elsewhere, that we could learn from it. Unfortunately, we're not immune to this.”

From educating kids to fighting antisemitism online, the state government will do whatever it can to help the Jewish community, Murphy said. 

“We will not relent,” Murphy said. “We will have the backs of communities like this all around our state.”

Another key component of keeping congregations safe, increasing security at places of worship, is done “with a heavy heart,” Murphy said. 

“But in the absence of doing it, we would sadly put people's lives and health at risk, and we can't take that risk,” he said. 

Murphy was joined by Asaf Zamir, Israel’s consul general in New York, who echoed the governor's sentiments. Zamir also pointed out that the attack came only a few days after seven people were killed on their way to prayer in Jerusalem. 

“It is a reminder to all of us of the enormous amount of hatred that exists and the fact that we need to do everything in our power, not just here, but all around the country, to combat it,” Zamir said.

Attorney General Matt Platkin was also in attendance.

Murphy first acknowledged the attack in a Tweet on Sunday afternoon, saying he had been briefed on the situation and that the investigation was ongoing.

“When we were back in our meeting, one of the things that I said was that often antisemitism can make one feel lonely,” Ner Tamid Rabbi Marc Katz said Tuesday night. “You can feel like what the Bible calls 'a people apart,' which means that the Jewish people are an island on their own.”

And a people apart is the way many Jews have felt for centuries as antisemitism has made its way through history, Katz said. 

But because of the support of elected officials, faith leaders and the larger community, the Ner Tamid congregants feel “anything but lonely,” Katz said. 

“We actually are heartened by the show of support and feel like we are exiting this with a better sense of community and partnership than when we went into this tragedy,” Katz said.

And to those who harbor antisemitic beliefs, the rabbi asked that they get to know the people they are putting in danger. 

“Most people who hold the antisemitic feelings, it's because they've got biases and fears about the Jewish people,” Katz said. “What I would hope is that they would take the time to get to know us and to understand that we are a diverse people with a rich heritage and a rich history that embraces everyone, brings them in, shows peace, love, and I would hope that if only he would get to know us, that fear would quickly dissipate.”

“We are so much more than your fears,” Katz said.


Since the Sunday attack, the Montclair community has continued to share support for Temple Ner Tamid, while also drawing connections between the attack and other recent instances of hate in the country. 

Over the past few months, there have been ongoing conversations about antisemitism at Montclair synagogue Shomrei Emunah, Rabbi Julie Roth said Tuesday. And the synagogue recently held a town hall on the subject during which congregants “expressed a range of emotions including fear, anger, and hope.” Roth said she’s been hearing from congregants about those same feelings in the days after the Ner Tamid attack.

“Antisemitism and other forms of hate are unacceptable in our community, our country, and certainly on the doorsteps of our houses of worship,” Roth said. “An attack on the Jewish community is an attack on our shared values as Americans and as human beings.”

Shomrei Emunah is working closely with Montclair police and the Jewish Federation of MetroWest, and will continue ongoing assessments of how to keep the community as safe as possible, Roth said. 

“Because this incident is part of a pattern of increased antisemitism, we had already been taking proactive measures for situations like this one,” Roth said. “Security and safety have always been a top priority for Shomrei.”

The Ner Tamid attack is only one of the “many heart-wrenching events that have reverberated through other communities” this week, Bnai Keshet Rabbi Elliott Tepperman said, pointing out mass shootings in California and the release of the video of Tyre Nichols' death at the hands of police. Bnai Keshet is also located in Montclair.

“Whether antisemitism, racism or other ideologies of hate, this is a time for us to stand with each other in love and solidarity,” Tepperman said.

And many congregants of Bnai Keshet are eager to show their support for Temple Ner Tamid and the broader community, Tepperman said 

"While I have certainly been hearing from congregants who are concerned and angry," Tepperman said, “the most common response I have heard is one of resilience and solidarity.”

The Montclair Interfaith Clergy Association stands in solidarity with the Ner Tamid congregation, the Rev. Scott Sammler-Michael, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Montclair and president of the Clergy Association, said Tuesday.

“The historical denigration of Jewish people and the Jewish religion continues to surface, and we must not be fooled into thinking that such hatred is a thing of the past,” Sammler-Michael said. “We urge all good people of any faith — or no faith at all — to stand in defiance of this despicable, albeit all-too-familiar bigotry.”

This act of hate and all the others that have happened recently in the country are not surprising to Sammler-Michael, he said. 

“No matter who did this, they're doing it because they feel like they have support in certain avenues of power,” Sammler-Michael said. “This is what happens when you have leaders who are irresponsible and who don't care where their power comes from.”

AAPI Montclair is partnering with a local church to host a crane-making event this week in solidarity with the Temple Ner Tamid congregation. The paper cranes will be strung together and presented as a gift of support and solidarity to the congregation of Temple Ner Tamid, according to a community message from AAPI Montclair. 

“We stand with our Jewish neighbors against anti-Semitism,” AAPI Montclair said in the message. “Paper cranes have become a symbol of peace and hope through stories inspired by a Japanese legend that anyone who creates a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish.”

No prior experience is necessary to make the origami cranes, and supplies and instruction will be provided. Anyone with questions or who would like to assist with the event should email

Temple Ner Tamid is also planning a gathering on Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m., an interfaith event open to the community. Additional details will be shared soon.

“Unfortunately, the Jewish community is pretty practiced at dealing with crises and dealing with antisemitism,” Katz told Montclair Local. “There is a sense that the cycles keep happening, but it feels very, very different when it's your congregation. This feels different, because this is literally our home.”

The Bloomfield Police Department and the Essex County Sheriff's Office announced Monday they are offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible. The attacker’s face was mostly obscured by a ski mask in the security camera footage. There were no reports of injury and the device did not explode when it struck the door, the police said in a statement.

Video of the attack was posted to the Bloomfield Police Department’s Facebook page Monday, but was removed later that day. Department leaders have not yet responded to several voicemails left Monday and Tuesday asking for additional information about the investigation. The Essex County Sheriff’s Office referred questions to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, which referred questions back to the Bloomfield Police Department.