Staten Island JCC evacuated after bomb threat: ‘Pure terror tactic’

Center evacuated as parents bring kids to preschool when threatening email received; recent messages to Missouri, Pennsylvania facilities threatened to bomb ‘Ukrainian Jew filth’

The Berkinow building at the JCC of Staten Island, New York. (Courtesy JCC Staten Island via JTA)
The Berkinow building at the JCC of Staten Island, New York. (Courtesy JCC Staten Island via JTA)

New York Jewish Week via JTA — The JCC of Staten Island briefly evacuated its buildings on Manor Road and Arthur Kill Road Friday following a bomb threat.

Communications Director Allison Cohen told the New York Jewish Week that the JCC received a threatening email, in what may be the latest in a spate of such false threats sent into JCCs and other Jewish institutions around the country.

“We have to take every threat seriously,” Cohen said. “The NYPD evacuated two of our buildings. They did a thorough investigation and found it safe to return.”

She said the evacuation happened at 8:53 a.m., as parents were bringing their children to preschool.

“Our staff had to talk with the parents and explain things to them,” Cohen said. “We always try to calm everyone down and make sure we’re working hand in hand with law enforcement. It’s really that partnership that keeps us safe.”

She and David Pollack, associate executive director and director of public policy and security at the JCC, declined to share details about the email.

“It is unknown if this is related to the current spate of bomb threats,” Pollack said in an email to members.

The Anti-Defamation League and the Secure Community Network, a consultancy that works with national Jewish groups, are both tracking fake bomb threats that have recently been leveled at JCCs in Oklahoma, Arizona, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Missouri, among other places.

The two most recent threats in Missouri and Pennsylvania came in through the JCCs’ online contact forms and included a message that said, “I’ll be there at 12 to bomb your facility you ukranian jew filth i got bombs there now” [sic].

Cohen called the threats a “horrible reality,” but the JCC is always prepared for it.

“We spring right into action,” she said. “We know exactly what to do because we’ve had them before.”

Cohen added that there have been a couple of threats at the Staten Island JCC over the last few years and none of them have been credible.

“This is a pure terror tactic,” Pollack said. “These are just threats, but they are making Jews live in fear.”

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