NEWARK, N.J (May. 18)
Newark police today were continuing their search for suspected black militants in the fire-bombing last week of Dr. Joachim Prinz’s synagogue, Temple B’nai Abraham. The incident followed the failure of a plot allegedly involving extremist Black Panthers aimed at extorting five thousand dollars from Dr. Prinz. Authorities were investigating a possible link between the fire, officially listed as arson, and the alleged kidnapping of Alfred Whiters, the synagogue custodian, by two men who demanded but failed to get Dr. Prinz” address and telephone number, police said.
Firemen fought the blaze, apparently caused by incendiary objects hurled through a window that had been forced open, for nearly an hour last Thursday night. Four rows of pews in the rear of the large temple were burned out, several memorials were damaged and part of the structure was burned.
Leaders of Newark’s black community denounced the fire and the kidnapping in a statement read to the congregation by Dr. Prinz last Friday. Several of the black leaders were present at the time. “The fire bombing of this temple,” they said, “finds its only likeness in barbarity in the fire-bombing of black churches in Selma, Ala, and other Southern towns. “We deplore violence by anyone and we cry out against its madness by blacks as fiercely as we condemn its use by whites.” Dr. Prinz, who has long been in the forefront of the civil rights movement and is well known as a champion of the cause of Negro rights, said: “We will not yield to any kind of terror…and will not be intimidated by arson or threats on our lives.”
Dr. Prinz said that he did not know why B’nai Abraham had been singled out for the attack. He was convinced, he said, that it was the work of a small group of hoodlums. The alleged plotters last week did not reach Dr. Prinz, 67, who lives in Orange, a Newark suburb. The custodian refused to tell where the rabbi lived despite threats on his life, police said. The alleged plotters sought money to pay for legal aid for an unidentified “brother,” police said. A Jersey City man was arrested and charged with threatening to kill and kidnapping. The man’s car was filled with Black Panther literature and posters.