Shaken workers wheeled out cribs from inside day care centers. Teachers locked hands with puzzled children and quickly led them from day school. Dismayed parents ran out of meetings and rushed to their kids.
The scenes were played out — over and over — at Jewish community centers and day schools in at least 12 states Monday after a series of bomb threats were called in.
In every case, police found no suspicious device. But the threats were enough to disrupt daily operations and rip apart the sense of security.
The Anti-Defamation League said 20 threats were made Monday — in Alabama, in Delaware, in Florida. In Indiana, Maryland, Michigan.
The list goes on: New Jersey, New York, North Carolina. Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Police also checked three California JCCs in Los Angeles, La Jolla and Palto Alto.
This is the fifth wave of bomb threats targeting Jewish community centers across the US and Canada since the year began. Add to that, the vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and several incidents in Miami where swastikas were etched into cars over the weekend, and what you get is a disturbing pattern of anti-Semitism.
“Anti-Semitism of this nature should not and must not be allowed to endure in our communities,” said David Posner of the JCC Association of North America.
The Anti-Defamation League officials said its San Francisco regional office was evacuated late Monday afternoon after it received a bomb threat. It was the second bomb threat that an ADL office has received in a week.
“While this latest round of bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers and day schools across the country again appears to not be credible, we are nonetheless urging all Jewish institutions to review their procedures,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt of the ADL in a security advisory.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered state police to work with federal and local law enforcement to investigate bomb threats in the state. Cuomo vowed to bring those responsible to justice.
“Make no mistake: these reprehensible and cowardly attacks are not limited to the Jewish community. They are assaults on all New Yorkers and I vow that we will do everything in our power to catch those responsible for this wave of hate crimes,” the governor said in a statement.
Meanwhile, police in Philadelphia are trying to determine who vandalized a Jewish cemetery over the weekend.
Between 75 and 100 tombstones were overturned and damaged Saturday night at the Mount Carmel Cemetery in the Wissinoming neighborhood. The incident is being classified as institutional vandalism, but investigators have not established a motive, according to Detective Jim McReynolds.
The vandalism comes less than a week after a similar incident at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis where vandals toppled and damaged more than 100 headstones.
Swastikas etched into cars
Miami Beach police are investigating several incidents in which swastikas were etched into cars over the weekend. Police spokesman Ernesto Rodriguez tells CNN that five cars were vandalized in an area that is predominantly Jewish.
In a statement, the city said, “Hate will not be tolerated.” The statement said there is no indication that the swastikas are connected to the string of JCC bomb threats.
“We would like to reassure our residents, especially our Jewish community, that we are actively working on this case and will not stop until we find out who did this.”