Sixth wave of threats hits Jewish centers across North America

ADL receives multiple threats; eight JCCs in the US and two in Canadian province of Ontario receive warnings, with one, in Syracuse, New York, under lockdown

Illustrative: The Albany JCC closed briefly due to a bomb scare, January 18, 2017. (Screenshot from Twitter via JTA)
Illustrative: The Albany JCC closed briefly due to a bomb scare, January 18, 2017. (Screenshot from Twitter via JTA)

At least ten Jewish community centers across North America as well as four offices of the Anti-Defamation League have received threats of lethal attack, the sixth such wave since the beginning of the year.

As of midday Tuesday, threats had been reported at Jewish institutions in Wisconsin, Maryland, Oregon, Florida, Alabama and at least two community centers in New York, according to Secure Community Network, the security arm of the Jewish Federations of North America. 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, was on lockdown after a threat was called in, SCN said. Paul Goldenberg, the SCN director, said the Syracuse threat was different in nature from the other threats. He would not elaborate.

One person outside the facility asked a police officer if there was a bomb threat and was told, “There is an incident going on there right now.”

Meanwhile, the ADL said it received multiple threats to several of its offices.

“We just received multiple #bombthreats at ADL offices. Law enforcement personnel are responding,” the organization tweeted. It has previously been the target of threats.

About 75 people were evacuated from the JCC building in Rochester on Tuesday morning before 6 a.m. according to reports. Parents with children in the daycare center were notified and told to make other arrangements. Brighton Police Chief Mark Henderson said they were dealing with the incident. “We’ve worked with JCC on emergency planning for a number of years,” he said.

He added that New York State Police and the FBI would be joining the investigation shortly.

The bomb threat comes less than a week after at least five headstones were toppled at the Waad Hakolel Cemetery, also known as the Stone Road Cemetery, in Rochester.

In Whitefish Bay, the center was closed due to an email threat received overnight, the center said. However, it said it would be reopening at 9 a.m. “We welcome all members and guests at that time, and apologize for the inconvenience,” the center said on its Facebook page.

It was not immediately clear if there were evacuations in Portland and in Rockville.

Goldenberg, the SCN director, said that in every instance protocols were observed and went smoothly.

“The protocols and processes that these institutions have in place have gone smoothly,” he said. “Our constituents and members have remained safe.”

On Friday the Federal Communications Commission granted Jewish Community Centers throughout the country a temporary waiver allowing them to receive caller information, in response to the recent series of bomb threats on the Jewish institutions.

The waiver came days after 29 JCCs and Jewish schools across the country received called-in bomb threats, the fifth such incident in less than two months.

Federal officials have been investigating 122 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.

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