Report: Beachwood JCC among centers receiving more bomb threats

BEACHWOOD, Ohio — The Mandel Jewish Community Center in Beachwood received an email bomb threat on Sunday, the Cleveland Jewish News reported.

The center also received a threat late last month.

According to CNN, the center is among several Jewish centers that reported bomb threats Sunday as Jews observed the religious holiday of Purim.

According to the Cleveland Jewish News, board chair Alan B. Semel and President and CEO Michael G. Hyman sent an email to members:

“This afternoon, along with multiple JCCs throughout the country the Mandel JCC received an email bomb threat and instituted our emergency protocols. With the guidance of our security team and law enforcement we conducted an extensive search of the building. We determined that this was a non-credible threat, confirmed the safety of our premises and the decision was made not to evacuate the building.

“These incidents reinforce our decision, earlier this week, to enact new, more rigorous security measures to ensure we are providing the safest possible environment for us all. We condemn these cowardly and despicable acts and urge national law enforcement and public officials to make it their highest priority to find these perpetrators and bring them to justice.

“Our operations will continue, as usual, on Monday, March 13. As always, thank you for your understanding, support and encouragement.”

Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) released the following statement regarding the Mandel Jewish Community Center:

“I am appalled by the second bomb threat made on the Mandel Jewish Community Center and strongly condemn this, and other, recent actions. As a community, we must do all we can to reject hate in any form and ensure the safety and security of all JCCs.”

In light of the first threat, the JCC permanently closed the Stonehill entrance to the center. Effective March 8th, the main entrance is the only way into the center.

Threats in the US and Canada

The Louis S. Wolk Jewish Community Center in Rochester, New York, was one of several Jewish institutions to receive a bomb threat on Sunday. The threats coincided with the Jewish holiday of Purim, a festive commemoration of the defeat of a plot to exterminate Jews in ancient Persia.

Other locations reporting similar threats included Indianapolis Jewish Community Center in Indiana; the Jewish Community Center of Greater Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada; and The Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. All reopened a few hours later without incident.

The Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston also received a bomb threat — its second in three weeks, Executive Vice President Joel Dinkin said. The center, which received the threat via email, was not evacuated.

The threats were the latest acts in a recent wave of anti-Semitic incidents across the United States. Museums, houses of worship, advocacy groups and cemeteries have been targets of bomb threats and vandalism as federal officials work with state and local authorities to find those responsible.

One person has been arrested in connection with a small portion of the calls. The head of police intelligence for New York City said he believes one person is responsible for most of the nationwide calls and the rest are the work of copycats. CNN was unable to confirm or corroborate his theory. Meanwhile, law enforcement officials have said they believe many of the threatening calls originated overseas.

Sunday’s incidents bring the number of threats since January in the United States and Canada to 154, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

FBI investigation continues

The Louis S. Wolk JCC also received a bomb threat on Tuesday, March 7, the same day another center in Syracuse and the Anti-Defamation League’s New York City headquarters received threats. No devices were found at the locations and the centers reopened soon after.

After the first bomb threat, the Rochester center had opened its doors to those who lost power in a winter storm blanketing the Northeast. Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, called the bomb threat “despicable” given the center’s service to the community.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the incident “cowardly,” especially on a holiday weekend celebrating “the resiliency of the Jewish people.”

“Like all New Yorkers, I am profoundly disturbed and disgusted by the continued threats against the Jewish community in New York. As New Yorkers, we will not be intimidated and we will not stand by silently as some seek to sow hate and division. New York is one family, and an attack on one is an attack on all,” he said in a statement.

Cuomo said he would direct state police to investigate the bomb threats in conjunction with federal officials. Last week, Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio increased a reward for information on hate crimes — not just bomb threats — to $20,000.

The FBI and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division vowed to investigate possible civil rights violations in connection with the threats.

“The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence, and will ensure this matter is investigated in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner. As this matter is ongoing, we are not able to comment further at this time,” the federal agency said.