WEST ORANGE, NJ — Earlier this week, 11 Jewish community centers received phoned-in bomb threats on Feb. 20. This comes in the aftermath of three waves of bomb threats in January, resulting in, through this most recent wave, 69 incidents at 54 JCCs in 27 states and one Canadian province in total. The West Orange JCC received a bomb threat during the third wave on Jan. 31. All bomb threats in both January and February have proven to be hoaxes, and all JCCs impacted have returned to regular operations, according to a statement from the JCC Association of North America.
David Posner, director of strategic performance at JCC Association of North America, whose role involves advising local JCCs on security policies and practices, issued the below statement:
“On Feb. 20, 11 Jewish community centers received called-in bomb threats, which were ultimately determined to be hoaxes. Our centers have in place security protocols to ensure the safety of their program participants and facility visitors. All JCCs have now received the all-clear from local law enforcement and resumed regular operations, with a heightened level of security.
“As always, safety is our top priority, and we are continuously impressed with the JCC professionals on the ground who are relying on established best practices and strong relationships with law enforcement agencies to ensure the well-being of all who use and benefit from their facilities. Our JCCs are strongly rooted in communities across the country, and we will not be cowed by threats intended to disrupt people’s lives or the vital role Jewish community centers play as gathering places, schools, camps, and fitness and recreation centers.
“While we are relieved that all such threats have proven to be hoaxes and that not a single person was harmed, we are concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats, and the repetition of threats intended to interfere with day-to-day life. Local JCCs serve not just the Jewish community, but the entire community. Participants from all different backgrounds come to their local JCCs for activities, Jewish cultural and religious programming, and opportunities to come together as a community.
“We are in regular communication with the FBI, which is investigating these threats, to ensure the FBI has the most updated information. We hope to hear updates from the FBI on progress very soon.
“JCC Association is coordinating updated security trainings for JCC executives and staff, to ensure that our community of professionals across the country is prepared with critical tools, resources and contacts.”