Bomb threats target Jewish institutions outside R.I.


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Security officials are reporting a spate of bomb threats targeting Jewish institutions in a number of states.

The threats came into Jewish community centers around the country in recent weeks, according to Michael Masters, who directs the Secure Community Network, a consultancy that works with national Jewish groups.

JCCs targeted have been in Pennsylvania, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona and New Jersey. The threats come through online contact forms and have similar language.

The most recent target, the JCC of Staten Island, briefly evacuated its buildings March 25 following a bomb threat.

Communications Director Allison Cohen told the New York Jewish Week that the JCC received a threatening email, in what may be the latest in a spate of such false threats sent into JCCs and other Jewish institutions around the country.

In Rhode Island, there have been no threats received, according to Napolean Brito, manager of community security at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island. “We are monitoring the situation and we are prepared in case it does happen,” he said. “We have advised staff on protocols, and we are up-to-date on our procedures.”

Like many JCCs around the country, Dwares JCC partners with the SCN.

Masters, of the SCN, said that the perpetrators appear frustrated when the targeted institution does not shut down after security officials determine that the threat is not credible.

“We think that these guys are doing other calls because they’re not getting the outcome that they want, which is to potentially shut down the facility or sow discontent or fear,” he said.

In 2017 hundreds of bomb threats were called into JCCs – including the Dwares JCC – sowing widespread fear; a 20-year-old American-Israeli man was eventually convicted of making those calls.

In 2020, more than 50 Jewish community centers in 23 states received emailed bomb threats. None proved credible.

With reports from Jewish Rhode Island