(JTA) – The Hebrew High School of New England was among 29 Jewish community centers and Jewish day schools across the country that received bomb threats on Monday, Feb. 27, in the latest wave of threats to hit Jewish institutions.
According to reports, a threat was phoned in to the West Hartford school at 10:45 a.m., at which point the school was evacuated and a search of the building conducted. A short time later, students and staff were allowed back into the building.
“All students and faculty were evacuated safely per our established protocol and the building was thoroughly checked,” read a statement issued by the school. “Once the building was cleared by the police, everyone safely returned to the building. We are working closely with the West Hartford Police Department to ensure that we continue to provide the highest degree of security for our students and faculty.”
In addition to Connecticut, the Secure Community Network, the security arm of the national Jewish community, reported JCC evacuations in Arizona, California, Washington state, North Carolina, Michigan, Rhode Island, Florida, Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York, New Jersey, Alabama, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
The incidents are the fifth wave of such threats in less than two months, in which 89 bomb threats have been called in to 72 Jewish institutions in 30 U.S. states and one Canadian province, according to the JCC Association of North America.
The affected institutions were all cleared and resumed normal operations as of the late afternoon, according to the JCC Association of North America.
The JCCs in West Hartford and New Haven were among those to receive threats.
Paul Goldenberg, director of the Secure Community Network, told JTA shortly after reports of the bomb threats began coming in that his organization was working closely with the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI to identify the perpetrators and stop the threats. SCN is an affiliate of the Jewish Federations of North America that advises Jewish groups and institutions on security. SCN also is working closely with the Anti-Defamation League, Goldenberg said.
Calling the continued threats “disturbing,” he said they are “impacting the lives of our communities out there.”
Goldenberg also said the Jewish institutions are “behaving in an exemplary manner” in the wake of the threats.
“Our Jewish schools and our JCCs continue to train for this, continue to execute well-placed measures,” he said, going on to praise the staffs of U.S. Jewish institutions as being “vigilant.”
No actual bombs have been found at any of the dozens of institutions that have received bomb threats in recent weeks.
“The goal of these people is to wear us down,” Goldenberg said. “But we are back in our schools, we are back in our JCCs.”
The JCC Association of North America urged federal officials to identify and capture the perpetrator or perpetrators of the hoaxes.
“Anti-Semitism of this nature should not and must not be allowed to endure in our communities,” said David Posner, director of strategic performance at the JCCA, in a statement. “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,” he continued.
In the Washington area, the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School upper campus in Rockville and Gesher Jewish Day School in Fairfax both received called-in bomb threats.
The Jewish Ledger provided additional reporting to this article.