More than 20 Jewish Community Centers and schools around the country were evacuated on February 27 after bomb threats were called in, according to local news reports. The latest phone threats are at least the fifth such wave of multiple bomb threats on the same day since January, Haaretz reports.
The threats today have occurred in several states, including Alabama, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Indiana, Delaware, Rhode Island, New Jersey and New York.
Those calls were all made between about 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. to JCC locations and schools along the East Coast and in the Midwest.
A second round of bomb threats were made Monday evening on the West Coast and in the Southwest, with threatening calls reported at centers in Arizona, California, Nevada and Washington state.
The Anti-Defamation League’s office in San Francisco was also evacuated after a bomb threat was called in to a receptionist at 4:19 p.m., the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Police searched the building and gave the all clear about 7 p.m. when nothing was found.
“One threat or evacuation is one too many, and yet we’ve now seen more than 20 incidents in a single day not just to ADL, but to children’s schools and community centers — and more than 90 incidents since the start of this year,” Jonathan A. Greenblatt the CEO of the ADL, told the Chronicle. “The level of threats and incidents is astounding, and must not stand. We will do everything in our power to combat this wave of anti-Semitism.”
No one has been injured in any of the incidents, and police have not found any actual explosives. But officials and members of the Jewish Community Centers say the fear created by the calls is real. Police have not made any arrests.
“I’ve been in the business for 20-plus years, and this is unprecedented,” Paul Goldenberg, national director of the Secure Community Network, which advises Jewish organizations on security, told CNN. “It’s more methodical than meets the eye.”
Jonathan Greenblatt, of the Anti-Defamation League, told CNN, “We are in a volatile and fast-growing threat environment. The Jewish community has been on edge.”
The latest round of threats against Jewish Community Centers also comes after two Jewish cemeteries were vandalized. More than 200 headstones were damaged or knocked over at the Chesed Shel Emeth Society cemetery in the St. Louis, Missouri, suburb of University City last week. On Sunday, more than 100 gravestones were damaged at the Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia. In both cases, police have not made any arrests. Investigators have not determined if the cemeteries were targeted because of antisemitism.
The Trump administration has been criticized for being slow to react to the growing number of threats and anti-Semitism around the country.
Ivanka Trump tweeted about the threats last week.
And after the damage to the cemetery in St. Louis, Trump made a statement about the threats and antisemitism.
“The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil,” President Trump said.
The Anne Frank Center has called for President Donald Trump to make a nationally televised speech about antisemitism, and also Islamophobia.
“The President’s sudden acknowledgment is a Band-Aid on the cancer of anti-Semitism that has infected his own administration,” Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center, said in a statement. “(Trump’s) statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting anti-Semitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record.”
The FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division issued a statement saying it is “investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with threats to Jewish Community Centers across the country.”
“Anti-Semitism of this nature should not and must not be allowed to endure in our communities. The Justice Department, Homeland Security, the FBI, and the White House, alongside Congress and local officials, must speak out – and speak out forcefully – against this scourge of anti-Semitism impacting communities across the country,” David Posner, director of strategic performance for the JCC Association of North America, said after the Monday bomb threats. “Actions speak louder than words. Members of our community must see swift and concerted action from federal officials to identify and capture the perpetrator or perpetrators who are trying to instill anxiety and fear in our communities.
“We remain grateful to local law enforcement who continue to serve our communities and ensure that our JCCs and schools remain safe and open for business as the vital community institutions they are,” Posner said.
Here is a list of the latest wave of threats to Jewish Community Centers:
Levite Jewish Community Center, Birmingham, Alabama
The Levite Jewish Community Center in Birmingham, Alabama, received a phone call with a bomb threat about 8 a.m. Monday, Al.com reports. The caller told an employee of the JCC that there was a bomb in the building.
Birmingham Police responded with K9 units and searched the center. They did not find anything suspicious, and Betzy Lynch, executive director of the center, told Al.com, “We’re going to return to school and everything will go back to normal.”
The threat is the third received by the Birmingham community center since January. The first threat was made on January 18 and the second was made on February 20.
“Obviously it’s incredibly disconcerting, the wave of antisemitism that’s coming across the country,” Lynch said. “I believe that… now the threats seem to be going beyond just Jewish community centers into obviously Jewish cemeteries, and into Jewish day schools, and it just seems to be escalating.”
Harrisburg Jewish Community Center, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
The Jewish Community Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, received a threat via a phone call about 10:30 a.m., PennLive.com reports. The school and day care at the location were evacuated and police searched the building. The center was returning to normal operations about noon after nothing was found.
“Any anti-Semitic act or act of intimidation aimed at Jewish institutions and people in Pennsylvania is truly reprehensible and we must find those responsible and hold them accountable. This is not who we are as Americans or Pennsylvanians,” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said in a statement. “We will not take these threats and acts lightly and I have asked the Pennsylvania State Police and Office of Homeland Security to offer their full resources towards protecting these institutions and finding those responsible.”
York Jewish Community Center, York, Pennsylvania
The York Jewish Community Center in Pennsylvania was also evacuated Monday morning after a bomb threat was called in about 10 a.m., the York Daily Record reports.
The center reopened about noon.
“The JCC did a great job,” said Kristen Bardolf, who picked up her young son after the threat. “So, whoever did it, they won from the standpoint of inconveniencing people, but we’re not going to be afraid.”
According to PennLive.com, York Police said the bomb threat came from a “robotic voice,” that sounded male.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said on Twitter, “Several threats to Jewish institutions around PA today. We’re in touch w/local law enforcement and offered assistance in investigations. A threat against people of one faith undermines the safety of all Pennsylvanians. Our unity speaks louder than any hate speech or threats.”
Siegel Jewish Community Center, Wilmington, Delaware
The Siegel Jewish Community Center in Wilmington, Delaware was evacuated after a bomb threat was called in Monday morning, WDEL reports.
New Castle County Police tweeted about 10:30 a.m. that they were responding to the threat, the third that the Siegel JCC has received in a month.
The building was evacuated safely.
“Today, I met with leadership of the Jewish Federation of Delaware and Jewish Community Services at the Siegel JCC in Wilmington to talk about threats and violence toward the Jewish community here and around the nation,” U.S. Senator Tom Carper said in a statement. “The community center was among many around the country that has received multiple bomb threats in the past several months that have put the entire community on edge, and today, while we were talking about this very subject there, another bomb threat was called in. It is heartbreaking for such a flash of fear to overtake a place of strong community and joy that brings together people of all ages under one roof – from the babies in the daycare center to the senior citizens taking part in exercise classes. These acts must end.”
Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Rockville, Maryland
The Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rocvkille, MAryland, was evacuated after a bomb threat was called in at 9:22 a.m., the Washingtonian reports.
Montgomery County Police sent two K9 units to search the school, which is attended by about 500 students, and no explosives were found, Laurie Erlich, the school’s communications director, said. Classes resumed at 10:40 a.m.
Gesher Jewish Day School, Fairfax, Virginia
The Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax, Virginia received a bomb threat at 9:19 a.m., the Washingtonian reports.
Don Gotthardt, a Fairfax Police spokesman, told the Washingtonian officers searched the K-8 school and found “nothing.” About 143 students and staff were evacuated from the school as a precaution until a search could be completed.
Betty and Milton Katz Jewish Community Center, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
The Katz Jewish Community Center in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, was evacuated Monday morning. No explosives were found.
“They said there was a bomb, and that was all,” Les Cohen, executive director of the Katz JCC, told Philly.com.
The Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey is also located in the building.
“Has there been anything like this in our lifetime? It’s just devastating,” Jennifer Weiss, the federation’s executive director said. “It’s unbelievable.”
Perelman Jewish Day School and Kaiserman JCC, Wynnewood, Pennsylvania
The Perelman Jewish Day School and Kaiserman Jewish Community Center in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania were evacuated about 10:45 a.m. after a bomb threat was called in, Philly.com reports.
Students and staff were moved to a safe location, Steven Rosenberg, marketing director for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, told Philly.com.
“Perelman and other Jewish agencies are very well-trained on this situation and nothing comes before safety,” Rosenberg said.
Jewish Community Centers, Staten Island, New York
Three Jewish Community Centers on Staten Island, New York, were evacuated after a bomb threat was made, the Staten Island Advance reports. The threat was considered to be made against all three locations, in Sea View, Arden Heights and Tompkinsville, Ruth Lasser, a JCC spokeswoman, told the Advance.
The buildings were swept and no bombs were found, Lasser said.
The call was made to the JCC in Sea View about 9:30 a.m., according to Lasser. The caller seemed to be a man and the call was short. The caller made reference to bombs going off in two hours, Lasser said.
“This seems to be what’s going on across the country,” Lasser said. “It’s very disturbing. It seems that this is part of the pattern and this time we are included.”
JCC of Mid-Westchester, Scarsdale, New York
The Jewish Community Center of Mid-Westchester, in Scarsdale, New York, was evacuated about 11 a.m. after a bomb threat was called in, the Daily Voice reports.
There were no injuries and no explosives were found.
“We will not allow hatred, bigotry, or anti-Semitic violence to terrorize our families or our community,” Congresswoman Nita Lowey said Monday in a statement, saying her office has been n contact with the FBI about the latest threats in her district.
JCC On the Hudson, Tarrytown, New York
The Jewish Community Center on the Hudson in Tarrytown, New York, was evacuated after a bomb threat was called in at 9:13 a.m., Tarrytown Police Sergeant James Kovacs told the Journal News.
The building was searched and cleared by 10:55 a.m., police said.
The Jewish Alliance of Greater Providence, Providence, Rhode Island
The Jewish Alliance of Greater Providence in Rhode Island received a bomb threat Monday morning, NBC 10 News reports.
The threat was made through an automated call, the Providence JCC said. Police swept the building and did not find any explosives.
Jewish Community Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan
The Jewish Community Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan, received a bomb threat about 9:20 a.m. at its Hebrew Day School, Ann Arbor Police Lieutenant Matthew Lige told MLive.com.
The search was completed about noon and no explosives or suspicious packages were found, Lige said. Students and staff were let back into the building.
About 200 students and staff members were taken to an off-site location.
JCC Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana
No explosives were found after a bomb threat was called in to the Jewish Community Center in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Indy Star reports.
“While we are relieved that all such threats have proven to be hoaxes and that not a single person was harmed, we are concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats and the repetition of threats intended to interfere with day-to-day life,” Ira Jaffee, CEO of JCC Indianapolis, said in a statement.
The threat was called in about 10:40 a.m.
Jewish Community Center-Asheville, Asheville, North Carolina
The Jewish Community Center in Asheville, North Carolina, was evacuated about 9:30 a.m. after a call was made to the JCC saying a bomb was inside the facility, the Asheville Citizen-Times reports.
No suspicious items were found.
“We did receive a bomb threat this morning. It appears that other JCCs have received these threat as well,” Executive Director Lael Gray said. “We were very, very well prepared for this because we know these other calls have been coming in across the country. It was a very orderly evacuation.”
David Posnack Jewish Day School, Davie, Florida
The David Posnack Jewish Day School at the Jewish Community Center in Davie, Florida, received a bomb threat about 9:15 a.m., Local 10 reports.
The threat was determined to not be credible and students and staff were let back inside about 11:30 a.m.
“As always, safety is our top priority and we are grateful to our law enforcement agencies working to ensure tha wellbeing of all,” Michael Balaban, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Broward County, said in a statement. “These anti-Semitic incidents are deeply unsettling to the Jewish community, causing fear and anxiety, intended to interfere with day-to-day life.
“The campus serves not just the Jewish community, but the entire community. Participants from all different backgrounds come for education, recreation, cultural and religious programming and opportunities to come together as a community,” Balaban said.
Hebrew High School of New England, West Hartford, Connecticut
The Hebrew High School of New England, in West Hartford, Connecticut, received a bomb threat by phone at 10:43 a.m., West Hartford police said in a press release.
Lieutenant Eric Rocheleau said the Bloomfield Avenue school was evacuated as police and fire responded.
“The school was searched and within a short time returned to normal operating procedures. Nothing suspicious was located. It was learned that several other threats were received at out of state JCCs and Jewish days schools,” Rocheleau said. “The WHPD continues to work with faith based leaders in this community with security concerns. The FBI will be notified of this incident. The incident was referred to the West Hartford Detective Division.”
Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center, Scottsdale, Arizona
The Jewish Community Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, received a vague phone threat Monday evening, the Scottsdale Police Department told KTAR.
The building was evacuated and searched by police, who cleared it and did not find anything suspicious. Normal operations resumed about 7:15 p.m.
Jewish Community Center, Tucson, Arizona
The Jewish Communtiy Center in Tucson, Arizona, was locked down after a threat was called in, saying something was going to happen in the center’s parking lot, Police Sergeant Peter Dugan told KGUN-TV.
The call was made about 6 p.m.
People inside the center sheltered in place while the bomb squad investigated. Nothing was found.
Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, La Jolla, California
The Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla, California, was evacuated after a bomb threat was called in Monday afternoon, Fox 5 San Diego reports.
It was the third threat to the JCC in recent weeks, KGTV reports.
“We have received a bomb threat and we are following practiced protocol,” the JCC said in a statement. “Everyone is being safely evacuated to La Jolla Country Day School across the street from our JCC while San Diego Police make a careful sweep of the building.”
The all clear was given after nothing was found.
Jewish Community Center of Southern Nevada, Las Vegas
The Jewish Community Center of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas was evacuated after a bomb threat was called in Monday night.
“We don’t believe the bomb threat at Southern Nevada’s JCC is credible but it is important that we don’t become complacent and must continue to be vigilant,” the Anti-Defamation League of Nevada said in a statement to KTNV. “These threats around the country are usually used as scare tactics to cause fear and panic in our community.”
Jewish Community Center, Mercer Island, Washington
The Jewish Community Center in Mercer Island, Washington, were evacuated after a threat was made, Q13 Fox reports.
Mercer Police said no bombs were found during a search, but the Bellevue Police bomb squad was brought in to assist.
Nadine Strauss, the executive director of Herzl-Ner Tamid synagogue said the center had prepared for “the possibility” of a threat and the staffers there evacuated to the synagogue. Everyone at the synagogue was “safe and comfortable, entertained and fed,” Strauss said.
Oshman Family Jewish Community Center, Palo Alto, California
The Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto, California, said it received a threatening phone call Monday evening.
“The OFJCC has received a threatening phone call. As a precaution, we are closing and evacuating the campus,” the center said on Twitter. “Parents will be receiving messages about pickup. We are working with the police and will update you as soon as we have new information. The OFJCC remains closed until further notice. We are working w/ P.A. Police to ensure facilities are safe. Further information will follow.”
Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County, Irvine, California
The Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County in Irvine, California, was evacuated about 4:40 p.m. Monday, the Orange County Register reports. About 1,000 people were at the facility and its Tarbut V’Torah school at the time, according to the Register.
The threat was made by phone. Bomb-sniffing dogs from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department responded and searched the center and school, but nothing was found.
The Irvine Police Department, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are investigating.