Jewish organizations in at least 12 states were forced to evacuate following bomb threats on Monday, the latest in a rash of similar incidents over the last two months.
There were reports of threats called into Jewish community centers and schools in states including New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Michigan, Delaware, Indiana and Pennsylvania.
“Anti-Semitism of this nature should not and must not be allowed to endure in our communities,” said the Jewish Community Center Association in response to Monday’s threats. “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.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League, around 90 threats have been made so far this year to Jewish institutions across the country. ADL said there were at least 20 threats on Monday.
“While this latest round of bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers and day schools across the country again appears to not be credible, we are nonetheless urging all Jewish institutions to review their procedures,” said ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt.
A Jewish day school and community center in Miami was evacuated Monday morning before students and staff were let back in around 11:30 am, CBS Miami reported. Parents had been alerted and were given the option to pick up their children at a church down the street. Police said the threat was not credible, but they were taking the incident “very seriously.”
In North Carolina, a bomb threat was made to the Asheville Jewish Community Center around 9:30 a.m. Shalom Park of Charlotte, a campus that includes several Jewish schools and temples, evacuated some of its facilities Monday morning. Police determined the threat was “not credible,” similar to a threat the campus received last month that also turned up no explosives.
The Cherry Hill Jewish Community Center in Camden County, New Jersey, was evacuated before 11 a.m., NBC New York reported. In New York, two facilities in Weschester County received bomb threats, and the JCC in Plainview was evacuated. Police searched three JCC facilities on Staten Island after a threat was received there.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday ordered State Police to investigate the threats in his state.
In the Washington, D.C. area, two Jewish day schools received threats, according to Washingtonian. In Fairfax County, Virginia, students and staff were briefly evacuated from Gesher Jewish Day School while police conducted a search. Fairfax Police spokesman Don Gotthardt said they found “nothing.” Students at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Montgomery County, Maryland, were not evacuated and a police search did not turn up a bomb. The school’s director said the phone call making the threat was automated.
The previous waves of threats made earlier this year were all found to be hoaxes, and none of the threats Monday have so far been found credible. But the threats are accompanied by a troubling rise in vandalism to other Jewish sites: Over the weekend, around 100 headstones were toppled at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. Last Monday, a cemetery in Missouri had around 150 headstones vandalized.