Home News International At least 25 U.S. Jewish institutions targeted by bomb threats

At least 25 U.S. Jewish institutions targeted by bomb threats

Photo from Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston Facebook page

This is a developing story.

At least 25 Jewish institutions across the United States have received bomb threats, Jewish security officials said, in the second wave of such mass disruption in two weeks.

Paul Goldenberg, the director of Secure Community Networks — an affiliate of the Jewish federations of North America, which advises Jewish groups and institutions on security — said there were bomb threats called in Wednesday to Jewish community centers, schools and other institutions in Miami; Edison, New Jersey; Cincinnati; Alabama, and on the West Coast.

News reports also cited threats in Albany, New York; Nashville; suburban Boston and Detroit; West Hartford, Connecticut, and the Orlando area.

Additional threats were being reported early Wednesday afternoon.

Whether the institutions, which include schools and community centers, evacuated depended on the practices of local law enforcement, Goldenberg said.

“It’s the second salvo in 10 days, we’re asking people to ensure they stay in contact with local law enforcement,” he said.

Bomb threats were called into 16 institutions across the Northeast and South on Jan. 9, and hundreds of people were evacuated. All the alerts were false.

In many cases Wednesday the callers were live, Goldenberg said, as opposed to the previous threat, when calls were recorded.

Operations at the Gordon JCC in Nashville returned to normal approximately an hour after a receptionist received a call stating that there was a bomb in the building, said Mark Freedman, executive director at the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee. The was delivered in a woman’s voice, but it was unclear whether the call was live or recorded, he told JTA.

Freedman said the community, which was targeted in last week’s series of threats, would not be intimidated by the incidents, which he termed “telephone terrorism.”

“[T]hese people, whoever they are, that are making these threats are trying to intimidate, create anxiety and fear, and we are going to do what we have to do to ensure the safety and security of our valued members and constituents, but we are not going to give in to what they are trying to create, which is to drive us away from our valued institutions,” he said.

Freedman added: “Clearly it’s a pattern of intimidation, and it’s likely to continue in the current atmosphere that we have in this country, where hate groups feel that they can come after good-standing members of the community.”

This round of bomb threats is the latest incident in a recent wave of increased anti-Semitism in the U.S. The Anti-Defamation League documented rising anti-Semitic abuse on Twitter last year, as well as a spike in hate crimes following the presidential election. Elise Jarvis, associate director for communal security at the ADL, said she anticipates more incidents like this in the future.

“These things often come in cycles,” she told JTA Wednesday. “All these things, when you bring them together, it paints an intense picture.”

Jarvis said institutions need more training in how to deal with bomb threats, including which questions to ask the caller — where the bomb is, for example — and how to handle other threats like suspicious mail. If staff are aware of security procedures, she said, being prepared doesn’t have to be costly.

“We need to be providing a lot more training, specifically on how to respond to bomb threats,” Jarvis said. “The longer you can keep someone on the phone, the better.”

Secure Community Networks held a conference call later the same week with top FBI and Homeland Security officials for over a thousand callers from Jewish groups across the country.

  • TerrorIsEvil

    The reality is that whenever anyone wants attention they target Jews, whether they are Islamic terrorists or dingbats out to excoriate and express their endless hate for Trump (even before he sets foot in office).

    This situation is exacerbated when certain people are working day and night to form opposition to the existence of Israel and/or the election of pro-Israel Trump (some Jewish opposition to Trump is forming right here in Canada under a former Jewish leader).

    Extremism of any kind has never helped the Jewish people who thrive in stable, law-abiding and free democratic nations.

    Jewish people do not do well when their self-declared and open enemies are welcomed to implement their sharia law and take civilization back several centuries. When people brought up in an anti-Semitic/anti-Christian environment come to America, there is bound to be trouble for Jewish and other people and so government needs to recognize these facts and reality and stop pretending that opposition to terrorism is
    Islamophobia. That is why immigration must be carefully managed and people
    screened properly. There seems to be an Islam-first agenda in the Liberal
    government with respect to immigration that actually excludes non-Muslim people
    who are only allowed in token numbers. Shuls and new age Jews who make everyone
    else except Jews in Israel a priority add to the phony positive impression that
    is being created around immigration of people fleeing war-torn areas pummeled by
    Islamic terrorism and internecine war (as well as the age-old war to get rid
    of Israel).

    These threats need to be addressed very seriously. There is a strong possibility that this anti-Trump environment will lead leftists and Islamists to pull off something deadly to demonstrate that Trump’s victory will bring chaos (so that they can get back to
    what they consider to be their rightful place of entitlement to power).

    I do not trust the anti-Trumpites and I do not trust anyone with a pro-Islamist agenda –
    especially those with an agenda to bring as many unscreened people to America
    as possible to help them regain power in whatever devious ways they can find.