4 more bomb threats emailed to JCCs in US, Canada

Bomb threats were emailed to four Jewish community centers in the United States and Canada following a wave of threats that targeted 16 Jewish institutions on Tuesday.

JCCs in Colorado, Delaware, Connecticut and Vancouver, Canada, received bomb threats via email either Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, according to local reports and Paul Goldenberg, director of the Secure Community Network, which coordinates security across Jewish organizations.

The emails, according to Goldenberg, appear to be the tail end of a wave of bomb threats Tuesday that targeted JCCs, Jewish day schools and several offices of the Anti-Defamation League. It was the sixth such wave since the beginning of the year. In total, more than 100 bomb threats have been made against Jewish sites since the beginning of the year, all of them hoaxes. Several Jewish cemeteries have also been vandalized.

The Boulder, Colorado, JCC sent an email to members shortly after 3 a.m. Wednesday notifying them of the threat and saying that law enforcement had given the JCC permission to resume operations.

The Jewish Community Center in Boulder, Colorado. (Facebook via JTA)

The Jewish Community Center in Boulder, Colorado. (Facebook via JTA)

“We take the safety and security of our families, our community, and our staff as a top priority,” the email said, adding that “the continuation of these threats across the country to JCCs, other Jewish institutions, and the Boulder JCC is very disheartening.”

The JCC in Wilmington, Delaware, has received four threats, including one overnight Tuesday. Seth Katzen, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Delaware, which shares a building with the JCC, said he didn’t know why they’ve been targeted so many times.

The Birmingham, Alabama, JCC has also received four threats, and several other sites have received three.

“We haven’t seen that drop that other communities experienced,” Katzen told JTA Wednesday. “We’re a resilient and strong community. We don’t want to give in.”

But he added, “There is a wear and tear, no question.”

This is what a JCC bomb threat feels like: Voices http://usat.ly/2mBK0HO  via @usatoday

Photo published for This is what a JCC bomb threat feels like: Voices

This is what a JCC bomb threat feels like: Voices

I’m amazed how such love and compassion can coexist with cruelty.

usatoday.com

On Tuesday threats were reported at four offices of the Anti-Defamation league, Jewish institutions in Wisconsin, Maryland, Oregon, Florida, Alabama and at least two community centers in New York, according to the SCN. In addition, two threats were directed toward Canadian JCCs, in Toronto and London, Ontario.

Some threats were called in over the phone, others were emailed. Chicago5, NBC’s Chicago affiliate, reported a bomb threat at the Chicago Jewish Day School on the city’s North Side.

In addition, the JCC in Syracuse, New York, went on lockdown after a threat of violence was called in.

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s threats, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the Trump administration condemns anti-Semitism “in the strongest terms.”

“We denounce these latest anti-Semitic and evil threats in the strongest terms,” Spicer said, speaking at the daily White House press briefing. “I share the president’s hopes that we don’t have to continue to share these disturbing reports with you,” he added.

Spicer said that as long as the threats continue, the administration will keep condemning them and look at ways to stop them.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer speaks during a press briefing at the White House February 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski)

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer speaks during a press briefing at the White House February 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski)

Meanwhile Tuesday, the entire US Senate signed an open letter to the Trump administration urging them to take action against the continued surge in anti-Semitic attacks throughout the US.

“These cowardly acts aim to create an atmosphere of fear and disrupt the important programs and services offered by JCCs to everyone in the communities they serve, including in our states,” the senators said in the appeal.

On Friday the Federal Communications Commission granted Jewish Community Centers throughout the country a temporary waiver allowing them to receive caller information..

Federal officials have been investigating nearly 150 bomb threats called in to Jewish organizations in three dozen states since January 9 as well as a rash of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries, including in St. Louis, Missouri; Philadelphia; and Rochester, New York.

Juan Thompson, 31, was arrested on in St. Louis on Friday, suspected of being behind at least eight of the bomb threats, including calls to the ADL. However, those appeared to have been copycat crimes, which police said he carried out as part of a campaign to harass and cyberstalk an ex-girlfriend.

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