At least 20 Jewish community facilities in twelve states were hit with bomb threats on 27 February 2017, constituting the fifth wave of anti-Semitic threats around the U.S. since the beginning of the year.

The threats prompted evacuations in Jewish community centers and day schools in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. No injuries have been reported. At least one lawmaker, Democratic Party Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, was reportedly meeting with officials at one community center when it received the threat. 

Carper said in a statement

It is heartbreaking for such a flash of fear to overtake a place of strong community and joy that brings together people of all ages under one roof — from the babies in the daycare center to the senior citizens taking part in exercise classes.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, around 90 bomb threats have been levied against Jewish institutions in 2017. Jonathan A. Greenblatt, the ADL’s chief executive officer, said:

We are taking this very seriously and will continue to work intimately with federal and local law enforcement — in addition to our community partners across the country — as they cope during this difficult time.

A week earlier, the ADL’s headquarters in New York City was also targeted for a bomb threat. A spokesperson for the Jewish Community Center Association of North America, David Posner, called on federal officials to address the threats in a statement released hours after they were reported:

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.

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.

A spokesperson for the FBI told us via email that both the bureau and the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department are investigating the matter.

The rash of bomb threats came a day after about a hundred headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia were vandalized.

Sources:

“Jewish centers evacuated in Pa., N.J., Del.” Philadelphia Inquirer. 27 February 2017.

@SenatorCarper. “Threats of violence against Delaware’s Jewish community will only serve to rally our faith communities together to promote peace and respect.” Twitter. 27 February 2017. 10:05 a.m. https://twitter.com/SenatorCarper/status/836276133276569600

Anti-Defamation League. “ADL Issues Security Advisory to Jewish Institutions Nationwide in Wake of 5th Wave of Bomb Threats in Recent Weeks.” www.adl.org. 27 February 2017.

Andrusewicz, Marie. “Headstones Vandalized At Jewish Cemetery In Philadelphia.” NPR. 27 February 2017.

Kupferman, Samantha. “JCC Association of North America Outraged by New Rash of Bomb Threats.” jcca.org. 27 February 2017.