The Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC, along with 22 other JCCs and eight Jewish day schools in 16 states, received a bomb threat on Monday, which proved to be “noncredible.”
The Owings Mills JCC received the phone threat around 10 a.m., and after consultation and an extensive sweep of the building, it was determined that an evacuation was not required, Paul Lurie, chief operations officer for the JCC of Greater Baltimore, told the JT.
This incident is part of the fifth round of such threats that have affected 81 JCCs and Jewish day schools across the U.S. and Canada since Jan. 9, according to the JCC Association of North America. It also marks the first time a threat has been called into the Owings Mills JCC.
Lurie said Baltimore County police arrived on the scene almost immediately after they were informed of the threat.
“We take the security of our members and staff very seriously,” Lurie said. “We really try to work with local and national law enforcement to make sure our security protocols are putting those people first and foremost and that we are following them in consultation with the opinion of those law enforcement officers.”
In January, the Weinberg Park Heights JCC was the target of two separate bomb threats. In both of those instances, the facility was immediately evacuated. Facilities affected Monday also include the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville, Md., and the Aleph Bet Jewish Day School in Annapolis.
According to a prepared statement from JCC of Greater Baltimore CEO Barak Hermann, and board chair Annette Saxon, law enforcement officials believe the threats to be similar hoaxes.
“It is imperative that immediate steps be taken to respond to the situation and identify and prosecute the perpetrators, so that we can stop future acts of intimidation,” the statement said.
The Owings Mills facility was determined to be safe by the Greater Baltimore JCC’s security teams and is continuing with regular operations.
Lurie said the JCC will work closely with local Congressional representatives, the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to intensify efforts to address the threats.
Lurie said the Greater Baltimore JCC will work closely with local Congressional representatives, the Justice Department and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to intensify efforts to address the threats.
Audio of a JCC Bomb Threat:
It’s a C-4 bomb with a lot of shrapnel, surrounded by a bag (inaudible). In a short time, a large number of Jews are going to be slaughtered. Their heads are going to [sic] blown off from the shrapnel. There’s a lot of shrapnel. There’s going to be a bloodbath that’s going to take place in a short time. I think I told you enough.I must go.
In addition to Owings Mills, Rockville and Annapolis, there were threats to facilities in Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington state and Calgary, Canada.
The incidences follows a week in which an estimated 170 graves in a Jewish cemetery in Missouri and an estimated 100 headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia were toppled.
To combat such incidences, U.S. Representatives Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Kay Granger (R-Texas), Marc Veasey (D-Texas) and Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) on Monday announced the relaunch of the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism.
“At home and abroad, we continue to witness anti-Semitism that is both dangerous and complex,” the co-chairs of the taskforce said in a joint statement. “… In light of recent events, it is more important than ever that Democrats and Republicans work together to root out hatred and racism in all its ugly forms. We look forward to working with our colleagues in Congress to find innovative solutions that match the 21st century face of this ancient bigotry.”
Paul Goldenberg, director of the Secure Community Network, told JTA shortly after reports of the bomb threats began coming in that his organization was working closely with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to identify the perpetrators and stop the threats. SCN is an affiliate of the Jewish Federations of North America that advises Jewish groups and institutions on security. SCN also is working closely with the Anti-Defamation League, Goldenberg said.
Calling the continued threats “disturbing,” he said they are “impacting the lives of our communities out there.”
Goldenberg also said the Jewish institutions are “behaving in an exemplary manner” in the wake of the threats.
“Our Jewish schools and our JCCs continue to train for this, continue to execute well-placed measures,” he said, going on to praise the staffs of U.S. Jewish institutions as being “vigilant.”
No bombs have been found at any of the dozens of institutions that have received bomb threats in recent weeks.
“The goal of these people is to wear us down,” Goldenberg said. “But we are back in our schools, we are back in our JCCs.”
David Posner, director of strategic performance at JCC Association of North America, called on federal and local officials and organizations to take action.
“Anti-Semitism of this nature should not and must not be allowed to endure in our communities. 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,” he said in a statement. “Actions speak louder than words. Members of our community must see swift and concerted action from federal officials to identify and capture the perpetrator or perpetrators who are trying to instill anxiety and fear in our communities.”
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted “it is time for action.”
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) February 27, 2017
JTA contributed to this report.
This story has been updated to reflect the latest numbers of affected Jewish institutions.