Jewish community centers across the country were evacuated today after a fresh wave of bomb threats were called into the facilities.
Federal agents were already investigating a series of bomb threats delivered last week via robocalls and at least one live caller to 16 Jewish center across nine states.
The targeted centers were located in the South, mid-Atlantic region and Northeast.
Today, the JCC Association of North America said threats targeted 27 Jewish community centers across 17 states in a new wave of calls, causing the centers to “quickly engage in security protocols to ensure the safety of their participants and facilities.”
According to an NBC affiliate in Connecticut, a woman called a Jewish center in West Hartford at 9:30 a.m. to say there was a bomb in the building. A center in Woodbridge also received a threat from a woman caller at 9:22 a.m. Classes of preschoolers were evacuated while police searched buildings.
Other reports from around the country put threats between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., with no further details on the callers.
The JCC Association said the latest round of threats were similar to the calls received last week, “causing many evacuations and a disruption to normal operations.”
David Posner, director of strategic performance for the association, said many leaders of community centers took part in a webinar including the Department of Homeland Security “to address concerns and procedures” after the first wave of threats.
“Lessons learned and best practices discussed were clearly on display this morning, and we applaud our JCCs for responding calmly and efficiently. Many JCCs not affected last week took the opportunity to review their own security plans, and speak with local law enforcement,” Posner said, lauding “the quick and thorough response from federal and local law enforcement.”
“The JCCs that have received the all-clear and been deemed safe have resumed regular operations,” he noted, but “we are concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats.”
“While the bombs in question are hoaxes, the calls are not. We know that law enforcement at both the local and national level are continuing to investigate the ongoing situation. We are relieved that no one has been harmed and that JCCs continue to operate in a way that puts the safety of their staff, visitors, and premises first.”
The Anti-Defamation League, which said it received reports of threats in New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Delaware, Connecticut, Alabama, California, Maine, Tennessee, South Carolina, Missouri, Texas and Kansas, issued a security advisory to Jewish institutions across the country.
“Although so far these threats do not appear to be credible, we are recommending that Jewish communal institutions review their security procedures and remain in close contact with law enforcement,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “While each incident needs to be taken seriously and investigated closely, thus far we are not aware of any of these threats being substantiated.”
In addition to the threats to community centers, the ADL added, “several companies and businesses around the country” have received “anti-Semitic faxes in recent days.” An ADL advisory aimed at businesses advised them to review their network security.