Jewish Center Bomb Threats Reported In 11 States

Jewish centers bomb threats were reported in at least 11 states on Tuesday, according to the JCC Association of North America. Although the calls were ultimately deemed to be hoaxes, the organization’s directors and members are “concerned about the anti-Semitism behind [the] threats.”

As reported by NBC News, threatening calls were made to Jewish community centers in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Authorities said the calls, which were a mixture of human and “robocalls,” were received between 10 a.m. and noon on Tuesday, January 31.

The Jewish center bomb threats were specifically disturbing, as JCC locations often provide daycare services and host after-school programs for children.

JCC Association of North America director of strategic performance David Posner said the centers were evacuated and later cleared by law enforcement officials. As reported by USA Today, the organization has resumed regular operations. However, Posner confirmed the centers increased security measures as a result of the threats.

The Jewish Journal reports Tuesday’s Jewish center bomb threats were the “third wave” of threats against JCC locations in the last month.

On January 9, a total of 16 Jewish community centers in numerous states, including California, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, South Carolina, and Tennessee, received bomb threats. Although explosives were not found at any of the JCC locations, the threats were disturbing nevertheless.

On January 18, nearly 30 Jewish community centers in 17 states received bomb threats similar to those received on January 9. A transcript of one of the calls, which was published by Aspen Jewish Congregation, underlines the disturbing nature of the threats.

“It’s a C-4 bomb with a lot of shrapnel, surrounded by a bag (inaudible). In a short time, a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered. Their heads are going to [sic] blown off from the shrapnel. There’s a lot of shrapnel. There’s going to be a bloodbath that’s going to take place in a short time. I think I told you enough. I must go.”

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt confirmed that “threats like this are nothing new for the Jewish community.” However, he said, “it is vitally important to take these threats seriously.”

The Jewish center bomb threats are currently being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with cooperation from local law enforcement agencies. Greenblatt also confirmed the Anti-Defamation League and JCC Association of North America are assisting in the investigation.

The Anti-Defamation League and the FBI are also working together to educate Jewish community center representatives about “best practices for responding to threats.”

Although nobody was hurt amid the recent Jewish center bomb threats, the calls induced panic, forced evacuations, and wasted law enforcement officials’ precious time.

In Salt Lake City, an estimated 300 people were inside the I.J. & Jeanne Wagner Jewish Community Center when the threatening call was received. In addition to evacuating the center, the staff was forced to call law enforcement officials to search the property for explosives.

In Lake County, Illinois, the JCC Apache Day Camp and daycare center was forced to evacuate children to another location until authorities had an opportunity to search the premises for the alleged bomb.

JCC Chicago vice president Addie Goodman said threats against the centers and their members are nothing new. However, he has noted “an uptick in the last couple of months in anti-Semitic and hate crimes against Jewish communities.”

It is unclear what motivated the Jewish center bomb threats at this time. However, Goodman said “[t]here has been a tremendous amount of rhetoric” in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.

In his opinion, “Some people have taken this as an opportunity to be more tolerant of this type of behavior.”

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