Jewish centers in at least six states all received bomb threats on Monday, adding to a growing wave of anti-Semitism across the country.
As first reported by Haaretz, several Jewish centers were forced to evacuate after anonymous callers phoned in with bomb threats. Although no one was harmed, the threats occurred in New Jersey, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Delaware, Maryland, and possibly others, according to local news sources and ThinkProgress reporting. Paul Goldenberg, who helps coordinates security for the Jewish Community Centers across the country, said a total of 16 centers received threats.
“We have a preschool with almost 200 children, and probably another 30 or 40 staff,” Michael Feinstein, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Center in Rockville, Maryland, told ThinkProgress. “Everyone was evacuated calmly and quickly.”
“It seems to be an unfortunate trend.”
Feinstein said the threat was the first the center had ever received, but noted that Jewish schools in Florida also endured bomb threats last week.
“It seems to be an unfortunate trend,” he said.
Vanessa, the front desk clerk in of the Jewish Community Center in Columbia, South Carolina, said she spoke with the person who made the bomb threat over the phone.
“She sounded like an older woman,” she told ThinkProgress, adding that more than 50 people were evacuated from the center. “She said, ‘yes, not long ago, there is a bomb in the building.’ And I was like, that doesn’t make any sense!”
The exact scope of the threats is unknown. Several Jewish centers relayed media requests about the issue to their local Jewish federation, none of which returned calls by press time. There are also reports of Jewish schools in London, England being evacuated for similar threats today.
The surge in threats add to an ongoing spike of anti-Semitism that has swept the country both during the 2016 campaign season and after Donald Trump was elected president. ThinkProgress has verified 14 anti-Semitic hate incidents since November 8, 2016, although many more have been reported—including an unnerving trend of swastikas being drawn in urban centers.
This post was updated to include a specific number of centers impacted.