Donald Trump

New Wave of Threats Hits JCCs, Schools Across US

The national Jewish Community Centers Association told NBC News that at least 20 centers and day schools were targeted with bomb threats Monday

A new round of threats to Jewish community centers was reported Monday across the United States, including one in Florida that drew a rebuke from actor Josh Gad, for whom the threat was close to home.

Gad said he grew up near a Jewish day school that was evacuated in Broward County Monday morning. 

The national Jewish Community Centers Association told NBC News that at least 20 centers and day schools were targeted with bomb threats Monday. Among those targeted were Jewish community centers in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Alabama, Missouri, North Carolina, Delaware, New Jersey and in the New York City area, police said. 

No explosives or injuries have been reported so far, and many of the centers have returned to normal operations.

"Not sure how this has become the new normal," Gad said in a message on Twitter. "Disgraceful." 

David Posner, director of strategic performance at JCC Association of North America, on Monday called on members of government and law enforcement up to the White House to condemn the threats and act to stop them.

"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," Posner said in a statement.

The statement said all threats reported so far have been determined to be hoaxes.

Paul Goldenberg, director of the Secure Community Network, a nonprofit founded by several national Jewish groups to bolster security at Jewish institutions, said "the Jewish community is back in business" after the latest wave of threats. Jewish Community Centers and other groups have extensive security protocols in place, Goldenberg said.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement Monday that he's asked state police and federal homeland security officers to investigate.

"Any anti-Semitic act or act of intimidation aimed at Jewish institutions and people in Pennsylvania is truly reprehensible and we must find those responsible and hold them accountable. This is not who we are as Americans or Pennsylvanians. We will not take these threats and acts lightly," he said.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the acts of vandalism and bomb threats serious, unacceptable behavior and promised the Justice Department will "do what it can to assist in prosecuting anybody" proven to have participated.

Speaking Monday, he called the attacks and threats "a very serious and disruptive practice."

It's just the latest round of threats to Jewish community centers across the country since January. No explosive has been uncovered amid the months of threats, many of which have been called in.

On Jan. 9, 16 centers in nine states received threats. In central Florida bomb threats targeted two Jewish centers and two Jewish preschools in Tampa. Authorities said no explosives were found at those locations.

On Jan. 18, 27 Jewish community centers in 17 states, including Florida, New Jersey, Delaware, Tennessee and North Carolina received threats, according to the JCC Association of North America. No injuries or actual explosives have been reported.

Other threats have been reported as well. The FBI and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division are investigating possible civil rights violations in connection with threats, the agency has said.

In the last two weeks, Jewish cemeteries in Missouri and Pennsylvania have also been defaced, with dozens of headstones toppled.

A Muslim crowdfunding effort to support the Missouri cemetery has raised more than $136,000, and organizers say they will use some of the money for the Philadelphia cemetery where similar vandalism occurred.

The fundraising effort began last week after 154 headstones were tipped over at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Missouri, a St. Louis suburb. The money raised so far is nearly seven times more than the original $20,000 goal and will be used to help repair damage and upgrade security.

And organizers say some of the money will go to aid Mount Carmel Cemetery in Philadelphia, where several hundred headstones were knocked over during the weekend.

The fundraising campaign is scheduled to continue another three weeks.

President Donald Trump last week called the threats to the centers "horrible and painful." His remarks came amid pressure for him to speak out about the threats.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday Trump is "deeply disappointed and concerned" about the latest act of vandalism in Pennsylvania and the threats to the community centers, and condemns those acts.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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