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Jewish day schools in Pennsylvania, Texas evacuated over bomb threats

No device found at Austin Jewish Academy or Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy; Philadelphia Jewish community official doesn’t believe Bryn Mawr school targeted for being Jewish

Illustrative -- A police officer stops a vehicle at a check point on March 20, 2018, in Schertz, Texas  (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Illustrative -- A police officer stops a vehicle at a check point on March 20, 2018, in Schertz, Texas (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Two Jewish day schools in Philadelphia and Texas were evacuated this week after bomb threats were made to the institutions.

A parent at the Austin Jewish Academy said they were told on Monday that an individual had called the school to say there was a bomb in one of the hallways.

The students were evacuated from the building, but no device was found during a police sweep.

On Wednesday, the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania was evacuated for a number of hours, The Forward reported.

According to the report, the school told parents that students were evacuated after receiving “multiple concerning calls.”

However, Michael Balaban, chief executive of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, told the outlet that it was not believed the school was targeted specifically for being a Jewish educational institution.

Balaban said the school received calls saying that there was a bomb on the site and that an armed individual was on their way to the school. He said,  however, multiple institutions across five states had received similar threats during a 30-minute period, and that only two of them were Jewish.

There was no reason to believe the incidents in Texas and Pennsylvania were directly connected.

The Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy hit the headlines in recent weeks when State Sen. Doug Mastriano, a candidate for governor of Pennsylvania who has far-right connections, made the alma mater of eventual Democratic victor, Josh Shapiro, a campaign issue.

At a rally, Mastriano said Shapiro “grew up in a privileged neighborhood, attended one of the most privileged schools in the nation as a young man — not college, I’m talking about as a kid.”

This combination of photos shows Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate state Attorney General Josh Shapiro on June 29, 2022, in Philadelphia, left, and Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano on September 29, 2022, in Erie, Pennsylvania, right. (AP Photo)

In addition, Mastriano said on Wednesday, Shapiro is now “sending his four kids to the same privileged, exclusive, elite school, $30-40,000 per pupil. We talk about him having disdain for people like us.”

Mastriano never mentioned the school by name or specified that it was a Jewish school. But fellow alumnus Jake Tapper took notice of the implication on his CNN program, “The Lead.”

“It’s a private Jewish parochial school,” Tapper said. “And I suppose, in that sense, it is privileged. But I do not know many people who would describe it the way that Mr. Mastriano did.”

In 2017, the far-right news site Breitbart similarly called the school formerly known as Akiba “a private, elite high school with exorbitant tuition rates.”

JTA contributed to this report.

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