For Jewish community centers (JCCs) around the country, 2017 began with a series of security scares. On January 9, 16 centers in nine states received fake bomb threats, causing many evacuations and a disruption in normal operations. It was a similar scenario just nine days later when, according to the JCC Association of North America, a wave of bomb threats caused 27 JCCs in 17 states to quickly engage in security protocols to ensure the safety of their participants and facilities.
After the first rash of threats, the JCC Association, which is the umbrella organization that supports local JCCs with services and resources, organized a webinar that many JCC leaders from different communities participated in. According to David Posner, director of strategic performance at the JCC Association of North America, the webinar featured officials from the Department of Homeland Security and Secure Community Network (SCN), an organization that focuses on security for the American Jewish community. The goal was to address security concerns and procedures. Posner, who helps to advise local JCCs on security, said that during the second wave of bomb threats, the “[l]essons learned and best practices discussed were clearly on display” by JCC professionals.
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. While the bombs in question are hoaxes, the calls are not. We know that law enforcement at both the local and national level are continuing to investigate the ongoing situation. 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.
From Maine to California, here is the list of the 27 JCCs that received bomb threats on January 18: the Aaron Family JCC of Dallas; the Barry & Florence Friedberg JCC, Oceanside, N.Y. (Long Island); the Galbut Family Miami Beach JCC; the Gordon JCC (Nashville); the JCC Manhattan; the JCC of Central New Jersey (Scotch Plains); the JCC of Greater Baltimore; the JCC of Greater Kansas City (Kan.); the JCC of Greater New Haven (Conn.); the JCC of Metropolitan Detroit; the JCC of Middlesex County (Edison, N.J.); the JCC of Syracuse (N.Y.); the JCCs of Greater Boston (Newton Centre, MA); the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine (Portland); the Levite JCC (Birmingham, Ala.); the Mandel JCC of the Palm Beaches (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.); the Mandell JCC of Greater Hartford (CT); the Mayerson JCC (Cincinnati); the Osher Marin JCC (San Rafael, Calif.); the Rosen JCC (Orlando); the Sabes JCC (Minneapolis); the Sidney Albert Albany JCC (N.Y.); the Siegel JCC (Wilmington, Del.); the St. Louis Jewish Community Center; The Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus (Ohio); The Roth Family JCC of Greater Orlando; and the Worcester JCC (Mass.).
The JCC Association of North America continues to collaborate with local JCCs and law enforcement to ensure that the centers can safely serve their communities. The JCC Association also continues to partner with SCN as it develops action plans and provides guidance, recognized practices and research to local JCCs.