by Sojourner Staff
BRIGHTON, NY – The Brighton Jewish Community Center was closed Tuesday morning following a bomb threat to the building.
Rochester’s News 10 NBC reports that between 75 and 80 people were evacuated from the JCC at around 6 a.m. As another wave of bomb threats directed at Jewish community centers and schools, the fifth since the beginning of the year, continues, authorities in Monroe County and Brighton, along with the FBI, will investigate the incident to see if it is related to events happening around the country.
The bomb threat comes just days after the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper covered the desecration of twelve headstones in Rochester’s Waad Hakolel (Vaad Hakolel) Jewish Cemetery. Nationwide, there have been increases in anti-Semitic hate crimes. In February, at a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, over 170 headstones were vandalized. Similar incidents have also occurred in Philadelphia.
As a result of the bomb threat in the Rochester suburb, the Dewitt Jewish Community Center just outside of Syracuse was also put on lockdown. The Dewitt JCC received two bomb threats in January.
Elsewhere in the state, New York has also seen a rise in hate crimes directed toward Jewish facilities and buildings. From January 1 to February 26, there were 35 reported incidents compared to 18 during the same period last year — a 94 percent increase according to NYPD statistics.
A report by the Huffington Post shows that, nationwide, there have been 108 bomb threats made to Jewish community centers and schools in as many as 30 states so far in 2017.
In response to the growing number of threats, elected officials from both state and federal offices have made statements condemning the activity. Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement:
”In recent weeks and months, the family of New York — people of all creeds, colors and backgrounds — have witnessed a dramatic increase in acts of hate and intolerance. The State Police Hate Crimes Task Force, in partnership with federal and local authorities, have launched aggressive investigations into reported hate crimes across the state.”
Senator Chuck Schumer has also advocated waiving a FCC regulation which would allow for the tracking of callers making threats to Jewish sites.