children playing in a large indoor pool
The pool at the Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto (Photo/file)

Bomb threats: Marin and Palo Alto JCCs, ADL’s San Francisco office

Updated with additional information, Feb. 28, 10:21 a.m.

The Anti-Defamation League’s San Francisco office at 720 Market Street was evacuated Monday afternoon after a bomb threat. The building was safe to reenter two hours later, according to an ADL press release. The main ADL office in New York received a similar bomb threat Feb. 22.

The Oshman Family JCC in Palo Alto also received a bomb threat Monday evening. “The OFJCC has received a threatening phone call. As a precaution, we are closing and evacuating the campus,” the JCC said in a tweet at 5:25 p.m.

The Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael was also targeted with a phone call at 4:45 p.m., according to media contact Iris Lax.

“It was a live call, from a man. We immediately evacuated everyone from the JCC and alerted our partners on campus. The preschool was closed, for training day,” Lax said. “We sent out an email last night to members and the public, telling them what happened … This morning we sent out our regular email of our vibrant programs going on — it’s business as usual today. Everything opened at the normal time.”

The caller identification on the call to the ADL appeared to have come from within the ADL itself, except “defamation” was misspelled, a law enforcement source told J. The voice was of a male caller, distorted, who said there was a bomb inside the building, and many people would die as a result, the source said. The voice sounded like it was repeating automatically, but it then answered questions asked by the ADL staffer who answered the phone. (The source commented on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak with the news media.)

The Secure Community Network, the security arm of the national Jewish community, also reported JCC evacuations in Tucson and Phoenix in Arizona; Orange County, San Diego and Long Beach in California; and Mercer Island in suburban Seattle. The evacuations brought to 28 the number of JCCs and Jewish schools evacuated Monday in the fifth wave of threats since the beginning of the year.

Earlier evacuations in the day were reported in North Carolina, Michigan, Rhode Island, Florida, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, New Jersey, Alabama, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. They included 13 JCCs and eight schools.

The JCC Association of North America urged federal officials to identify and capture the perpetrator or perpetrators of the hoaxes.

“Anti-Semitism of this nature should not and must not be allowed to endure in our communities,” David Posner, the director of strategic performance at the JCCA, said in a statement. “The Justice Department, Homeland Security, the FBI, and the White House, alongside Congress and local officials, must speak out – and speak out forcefully – against this scourge of anti-Semitism impacting communities across the country. Actions speak louder than words.”

Sue Fishkoff and Max Cherney contributed to this report.