Dozens of Jewish Community Centers in the U.S. were evacuated Wednesday, including in Manhattan and California's Bay Area, after receiving near-simultaneous bomb threats, according to various local reports.
- Bomb threats reported at 16 Jewish centers in nine U.S. states
- FBI and Homeland Security step in after Jewish centers hit with 16 bomb threats in single day
Wednesday's incidents came just over a week after 16 Jewish institutions across several eastern states received similar threats. The calls were said to be prerecorded in some cases and live in others, with the caller using voice disguising technology, and likely came from a single source.
JCC Association of North America said that 26 centers have been threatened in total on Wednesday in the following 17 states: Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Massachussets, New Jersey, Connecticut, California, Kansas, New York, Michigan, Ohio, Maryland, Minnesota, Delaware, Maine, Missouri and Texas.
The Anti-Defamation League issued security advisory to Jewish institutions across the United States following the serious of bomb threats. "Although the threats do not appear to be credible, the League is urging all communal institutions to take these threats extremely seriously," the ADL said in a statement.
In Florida, the Miami Beach Jewish Community Center was threatened and briefly evacuated, according to local police. A second Florida JCC, in Palm Beach Garden, was also evacuated and police swept the building and the adjacent Arthur I Meyer Jewish Academy looking for explosives, according to a local ABC affiliate. WPTV later reported that the threat had been lifted at the Mandel JCC.
A local ABC affiliate in Maitland, Florida quoted police as saying that a robotic voice called in a threat to their local JCC as well, resulting in an evacuation and heavy police presence. "Until we investigate it, we will treat it as serious," said Maitland police. A reporter at a local Fox affiliate later Tweeted that the lock-down had been lifted and that no explosives were found.
At the same time, a Jewish center in Birmingham, Alabama was also evacuated, as was a center in Nashville, Tennessee, according to The Tennessean.
The center in Tennessee was reportedly evacuated due to the bomb threat, but Mark Freedman, the executive director of the Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, told The Tennessean they were cleared by police by 10:30 A.M.
Police also cleared a JCC in Newton, Massachussets after a bomb threat was made at 9:30 A.M., according to a report by Channel 7 News in Boston. Police told the news station that a similar threat had been reported in Worcester, also in Massachussets.
A JCC in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, which was not targeted in the calls last week, also received a threat. Sanda Kenoff, Direcor of Marketing at JCC Association told Haaretz that the center was in contact with the other JCCs. "We received a thereat shortly after 9 A.M., once we deemed the area safe to return we resumed activities."
Also in New Jersey, a similar threat took place in Edison, according to News 12. Both a YMCA and the Middlesex County JCC were evacuated as a result of the threat that came in at approximately 9 A.M. Sheriff's deputies and city polie swept the building with K-9 units and gave the all clear after 11 A.M.
Jewish centers in West Hartford and Woodbridge, Connecticut were also targeted Wednesday, according to NBC. Police reportedly searched the facility in West Hartford but found nothing. According to the report, a woman was responsible for calling in a threat to the JCC of Greater New Haven in Woodbridge. Police reportedly arrived at the scene and gave the all clear, allowing some 200 children to return to their swimming program.
Another center in Albany, New York was also targeted by what police told the Times Union sounded like a woman. A report from the local station WNYT said that the center had been reopened. New York saw an additional threat to a center in Dewitt, near Syracuse. The call there was received just minutes before 10 A.M., according to CNYCentral, who added that the facility had since reopened.
A CBS Detroit report said that police had swept a JCC in West Bloomfield with bomb sniffing dogs but that no threats were found.
Yet another incident was reported in California's Marin County, where a reporter for the Marin Independent Journal tweeted that the local sheriff's department had responded to a bomb threat received by the Osher JCC in San Rafael.
Leah Rossi, 16, was at school nearby when she was told that the JCC and where she goes swimming had been targeted. She and her sisters had their bat mitzvas across the road. "It makes me feel nervous that this is happening so close to home, and our little bubble in Marin is altered."
The Mayerson JCC in Amberley Village, Ohio, just outside Cincinnati, was also threatened according to a report by the local WLWT5 station. The report did not mention police reaction, but said that no one was hurt and that the center had given the all clear shortly after the threat.
The Mayerson JCC released a statement shortly after, saying that everyone was safe and that over 20 other centers had received threats across the country.
The Baltimore Sun reported that a JCC in the city was also briefly evacuated after receiving a bomb threat. This threat was reportedly received at approximately 11:45 A.M., according to police. A JCC in Rockville, Maryland, just north of Washington D.C., also reported on its Twitter account that it had received a threat and evacuated the premises for a short amount of time.
Meanwhile, the Star Tribune in Minnesota reported that a JCC had been closed due to a bomb threat in St. Louis Park, just outside of Minneapolis. The Sabes JCC informed the public that "the campus was safely evacuated and the campus is currently closed," said the report. It also said that law enforcement had been contacted.
New Castle County police also responded to a bomb threat of a JCC in Talleyville, a town in northern Delaware, according to the police. This threat came later than the others, with police informing the public at about 11:30. Law enforcement did not find any threats and no injuries were reported. Jewish Federation of Delaware CEO Seth J. Katzen said that the caller who made the threat had been asked for more information regarding the alleged bomb, but the caller was disconnected.
In Portland, Maine, the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine received a threat at approximately 9:30 A.M., according to The Bangor Insider. The facility, including 40 students ages three to five, were evacuated and classes resumed an hour later after a police sweep of the building.
KSDK in St. Louis Missouri also reported a bomb threat to the JCC in Creve Coeur that came in at approximately 10 A.M. According to the report, police searched the area, but found nothing.
JCC Association said that additional sites were threatend, making a total of 27. The sites not listed above, according to the JCC, are the Aaron Family JCC of Dallas, Texas, the Barry & Florence Friedberg JCC in Oceanside, New York (Long Island), JCC Manhattan, and the JCC of Greater Kansas City (Kan.).
Full list of centers targeted according to JCC North America:
Aaron Family JCC of Dallas (Texas)
Barry & Florence Friedberg JCC, Oceanside, N.Y. (Long Island)
Galbut Family Miami Beach JCC (Fla.)
The Roth Family JCC of Greater Orlando (Fla.)
Mandel JCC of the Palm Beaches (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.)
Gordon JCC (Nashville)
JCC Manhattan (N.Y.)
JCC of Central New Jersey (Scotch Plains)
JCC of Greater Baltimore (Maryland)
JCC of Greater Kansas City (Kan.)
JCC of Greater New Haven (Conn.)
JCC of Metropolitan Detroit (Michigan)
JCC of Middlesex County (Edison, N.J.)
JCC of Syracuse (N.Y.)
JCCs of Greater Boston (Newton Centre, Mass.)
Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine (Portland)
Levite JCC (Birmingham, Ala.)
Mandell JCC of Greater Hartford (Conn.)
Mayerson JCC (Cincinnati)
Osher Marin JCC (San Rafael, Calif.)
Sabes JCC (Minneapolis)
Sidney Albert Albany JCC (N.Y.)
Siegel JCC (Wilmington, Del.)
St. Louis Jewish Community Center
The Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus (Ohio)
Worcester JCC (Mass.)