In the wake of last week’s attack on a Rutherford synagogue, social media is helping create a new sense of security there.
Adam Wolf, a West Orange marketing consultant, grew up in Rutherford and his parents live two blocks from Temple Beth El, the site of last week’s firebombing. When he heard about the attack, Wolf wanted to do something to help, and the result has been a viral campaign through e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter to raise money for the shul’s security upgrades.
“This is still my shul,” Wolf told The Jewish Standard Tuesday. “It was obvious we needed a new security system.”
Wolf spoke with some of his friends in the security field who gave him a rough estimate of $3,500 to upgrade the shul’s security system. He then turned to the synagogue with an idea to create a website to raise the money. By Friday afternoon, just before Shabbat, the site went live. As of Tuesday, more than $1,800 had been collected from donors, some as far away as Houston, Texas.
“They were kind of surprised when I told them we got donations from Houston and gotten donations from people who weren’t Jewish but love the town,” Wolf said. “Any amount is great, but people have donated as much as $100 and I think people are a little amazed by that.”
For Rabbi Nosson Schuman, who lives in the synagogue with his wife and five children, the response has been “very touching.”
“In general, throughout the whole New Jersey region, we’ve gotten a lot of sympathy and received checks from people we’ve never met before,” the rabbi said, noting people who moved away from Rutherford years ago are donating. “Somehow, we’ve made an impact on their lives and they’re giving back to us. It’s a very beautiful thing.”
Having reached half of its goal in only a few days, synagogue leaders hope to begin security upgrades as early as next week. They plan to install motion-sensor lighting and surveillance cameras to complement the existing alarm system.
“It’s not just a contribution to a cause, it’s a contribution to a family feeling secure and we greatly appreciate that,” Schuman said. “Everyone understands that this was not just a personal attack; this was an attack on the Jewish people.”
Schuman and his family remain in the house, adding a sense of urgency to the security upgrades.
For more information on Beth El’s security campaign or to make a tax-deductible donation, visit www.donatebethel.com.