At least 17 Jewish community centers across the United States were targeted with bomb threats this week in the third wave of such mass disruption in January.
Paul Goldenberg, the director of Secure Community Networks — an affiliate of the Jewish Federations of North America that advises Jewish groups and institutions on security — said the threats were called in on the morning of Jan. 31. Some of the messages were live, he confirmed.
Based on past events, “we know that the numbers can grow exponentially,” Goldenberg said, adding that perpetrators have been “leveraging technologies to make mass calls.”
Goldenberg confirmed that threats had been called into JCCs in San Diego; Albany, New York; Syracuse, New York; West Orange, New Jersey; Milwaukee and Salt Lake City.
Our JCCs are focusing on security today more than ever.
— Paul Goldenberg, Secure Community Networks
No Bay Area JCCs received a threat, although during the second wave of threats on Jan. 18, the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael was evacuated after a bomb threat was phoned in to its front desk. That threat and a similar one phoned in to the Ronald C. Wornick Jewish Day School in Foster City the same day both proved to be hoaxes and each institution reopened with nobody harmed.
On Jan. 31, the JCC in New Haven, Connecticut evacuated about 100 people following the call it received. After law enforcement determined that the threat was not credible, the evacuees returned. The New Haven JCC was also targeted in a wave of bomb threats about two weeks ago.
“We recognize that we live under a new set of circumstances that we have to be responsive to, and take every possible precaution to keep our people safe,” said New Haven JCC CEO Judy Diamondstein. “While we are disrupted, we refuse to be daunted by this.”
“Our Jewish community centers are focusing on security today more than ever before,” Goldenberg said, “and in spite of these continuous bomb threats, I’m confident that our institutions are taking security seriously — and in many cases Jewish institutions are more secure than institutions frequented by the general public.”
On Jan. 18, some 30 Jewish institutions in at least 17 states received bomb threats, and on Jan. 9, such threats were called into 16 JCCs across the Northwest and South.