A 19 year-old from Lodi, New Jersey has been arrested and charged with attempted murder for anti-Semitic firebombings of 2 Bergen County synagogues.
Anthony Graziano was arrested for the January 3 attack on Congregation K’hal Adath Jeshurun in Paramus and the January 11 attack on Congregation Beth El in Rutherford. He is charged with nine counts of attempted murder, bias intimidation, arson, and aggravated arson, and is being held on $5million bail. He faces up to 80 years in prison if convicted of all charges.
County prosecutor John Mollinelli said the attacks were meant to cause significant harm and were spurred by Graziano’s hatred of Jews.
Investigators, however, also believe that Graziano had nothing to do with anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi graffiti defacements of synagogues in Hackensack and Maywood in December.
According to investigators, Graziano researched local synagogues on the internet prior to conducting the attacks, and then rode his bicycle from his mother’s house to the locations.
In Paramus, Graziano rode the five miles from his mother’s house on January 3 to set a fire behind the synagogue, throwing a Molotov-cocktail on the flames.
On January 9, he bought supplies at a Walmart in Saddle brook – low-grade motor oil, duct tape, hairspray and raspberry Crush soda, packaged in glass bottles.
Then on the morning of January 11, Graziano filled a camouflage backpack with 6 Molotov cocktails and rode to the Rutherford synagogue, where he threw the flaming bottles one-by-one at the building, including into the bedroom of Rabbi Nosson Schuman and his wife, Pessy, who were sleeping in the residential quarters of the synagogue at the time. He followed up the homemade bombs with highly flammable aerosol canisters.
Molinelli told reporters that Graziano is believed to have known people lived in that section of the building as he threw the explosives.
Rabbi Schuman suffered burns on his hand as a result of his attempts to extinguis the flames. The Schumans otherwise escaped the house without suffering further physical harm.
Graziano is being described as an out-of-work loner with little social interaction. He lived with his mother and siblings, having limited contact with his father. His father, however, expressed surprise that his son was associated with the crimes, saying he had no inclination his son had animosity toward Jews. Graziano’s family has cooperated with the investigation, according to authorities.
Rabbi Schuman told NorthJersey.com that “we are all elated and jumping for joy” over the arrest, and Rabbi Chaim Shapiro of K’hal Adath Jeshurun thanked law enforcement officials who took part in the investigation, saying he hopes Graziano gets the maximum sentence.
About the Author: Malkah Fleisher is a graduate of Cardozo Law School in New York City. She is an editor/staff writer at JewishPress.com and co-hosts a weekly Israeli FM radio show. Malkah lives with her husband and two children on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
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