For the second time in two weeks, dozens of Jewish community centers across the United States received bomb threats Wednesday, all of which were investigated and determined to be hoaxes, officials said.
Bomb threats were called in to as many as 27 Jewish centers in 17 states during the day Wednesday, nearly double the number called in during the first wave of threats, raising continued concern among Jewish leaders and law enforcement,
“We’ve had two in two weeks, so we’re starting to question, ‘Is this the new norm?'” Leslie Sax, executive director of the Jewish Community Center in Nashville, Tenn., told The New York Times. “But we don’t know that. We haven’t had enough time to even talk about it, but I think people are disheartened and a little frustrated.”
On Wednesday, hoax threats were called in to centers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Florida, Alabama, California, Tennessee and Delaware, among others. For some of the centers, it was the second bomb threat they have received in the last two weeks.
In all cases, the centers were evacuated, searched by police, determined to be safe and reopened, officials said. However the calls were described as similar to those on Jan. 9, when 15 centers in six states received calls.
“While we’re extremely proud of our JCCs for professionally handling yet another threatening situation, we are concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats,” the Jewish Community Center Association of North America said in a statement. “While the bombs in question are hoaxes, the calls are not.”
Centers across the country took part in seminars with the JCCA and Department of Homeland Security offering them protocols for improving security and enhancing safety when evacuations or other emergency procedures must be put into effect.
Officials at the FBI and Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department are also investigating the threats, however no further information was offered by officials at either agency.
“We know that law enforcement at both the local and national level are continuing to investigate the ongoing situation,” the JCCA said. “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.”
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