Bomb Threats Hit More JCCs

Bomb Threats Hit More JCCs

Unlike the Gordon JCC in Nashville, the Marcus JCC in Dunwoody did not receive a bomb threat Jan. 18 after getting such a call nine days earlier.
Unlike the Gordon JCC in Nashville, the Marcus JCC in Dunwoody did not receive a bomb threat Jan. 18 after getting such a call nine days earlier.

Fake bomb threats were called in to at least 27 Jewish community centers Wednesday, Jan. 18, nine days after the Marcus JCC and 15 other centers received similar hoax calls.

Jewish schools and other institutions also received threats, JTA reported.

The Marcus JCC was not targeted in the second wave of hoax calls.

Wednesday’s threats created disruptions, including evacuations, in 17 states. No bombs were found, and no one was hurt.

“While we’re extremely proud of our JCCs for professionally handling yet another threatening situation, we are concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats,” David Posner, who advises local JCCs on security as the director of strategic performance for the JCC Association of North America, said in a statement. “While the bombs in question are hoaxes, the calls are not. We know that law enforcement at both the local and national level are continuing to investigate the ongoing situation. We are relieved that no one has been harmed and that JCCs continue to operate in a way that puts the safety of their staff, visitors and premises first.”

Posner said many centers participated in a security webinar organized by the Secure Community Network and the Department of Homeland Security after the Jan. 9 threats, so they were prepared for Wednesday’s calls.

The centers receiving hoax calls included the Gordon JCC in Nashville, Tenn., and the Levite JCC in Birmingham, Ala., according to a list from the JCC Association of North America. The Anti-Defamation League said it had reports of a center in South Carolina also being threatened.

The Gordon JCC also was one of the centers threatened Jan. 9. It was evacuated for about an hour Wednesday morning, The Tennessean reported.

The Levite JCC reopened midday Wednesday after the building was evacuated and police arrived with bomb-sniffing dogs shortly after 9 a.m., Southern Jewish Life reported. Betzy Lynch, the center’s executive director, told SJL that the Levite JCC was prepared to respond to the threat, especially after the Jan. 9 incidents.

“Although so far these threats do not appear to be credible, we are recommending that Jewish communal institutions review their security procedures and remain in close contact with law enforcement,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement Wednesday. The ADL urged Jewish communal organizations to take such threats seriously.

Whether the threats resulted in evacuations depended on each Jewish center’s procedures. The Marcus JCC did not evacuate but did conduct a full search Jan. 9.

While the calls to the Marcus JCC, Charlotte’s Shalom Park and the others Jan. 9 were recordings, at least some of the calls Wednesday were live, JTA quoted SCN Director Paul Goldenberg as saying.

Shalom Park is Charlotte’s central Jewish address, combining the JCC, the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte, a preschool, a day school and synagogues. The whole campus was evacuated Jan. 9, which happened to be a snow day for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg County public school system.

“The threat, while deemed not credible by local law enforcement, was nevertheless taken with all seriousness,” Charlotte Jewish Preschool Director Brooke Amo wrote in an email to parents Jan. 9.

Charlotte Federation Executive Director Sue Worrel said that for security reasons, “we’re not talking about this in depth.”

The full list of Wednesday’s targeted JCCs, according to the JCC Association: Aaron Family JCC of Dallas, Texas; Barry & Florence Friedberg JCC of Oceanside, N.Y.; the Galbut Family Miami Beach JCC; the Gordon JCC; JCC Manhattan; the JCC of Central New Jersey in Scotch Plains; the JCC of Greater Baltimore; the JCC of Greater Kansas City, Kan.; the JCC of Greater New Haven, Conn.; the JCC of Metropolitan Detroit; the JCC of Middlesex County in Edison, N.J.; the JCC of Syracuse, N.Y.; the JCCs of Greater Boston in Newton Centre, Mass.; the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine in Portland; the Levite JCC; the Mandel JCC of the Palm Beaches in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; the Mandell JCC of Greater Hartford, Conn.; the Mayerson JCC in Cincinnati; the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael, Calif.; the Rosen JCC in Orlando; the Sabes JCC in Minneapolis; the Sidney Albert Albany (N.Y.) JCC; the Siegel JCC in Wilmington, Del.; the St. Louis JCC; the JCC of Greater Columbus, Ohio; the Roth Family JCC of Greater Orlando; and the Worcester (Mass.) JCC.

The bomb threats against JCCs are coming a year after the Atlanta Jewish Academy Upper School and other Jewish day schools across the country faced a wave of similar hoax calls.

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