A caller made a bomb threat at Temple Beth Shalom, a Conservative synagogue in Livingston, just before 11 a.m. on March 21. Administrative staff was in the building and the preschool was in session, according to executive director Matthew Halpern. The building was immediately evacuated. The Livingston Police and Fire Departments and the Essex County Sheriff’s Department came to inspect the building, and the premises were declared safe, and everyone returned inside by 12:15 p.m.
“Unfortunately, it’s part of living and being in the Jewish world right now,” said Halpern.
The threat comes just a month or so after the nearby JCC MetroWest in West Orange and the JCC of Central New Jersey in Scotch Plains received similar threats, and after several waves of more than 100 threats to JCCs and Jewish institutions around the country since January. It also comes on the heels of anti-Semitic graffiti found in a public park in South Orange.
In an email to the congregation, Rabbi Geoffrey Spector called attention to the language being used to describe these events: a hoax. He wrote, “The dictionary lists the following synonyms for ‘hoax’: joke, jest, or prank. What we have been experiencing, however, is no joke. The people behind these threats are waging a deliberate war of psychological terror against the Jewish people. Their intent is to disrupt our daily lives and make us feel unsafe.”
He continued, “The most important step we can take right now in our ongoing battle against those who stoke the fires of anti-Semitism is to continue to live our lives joyfully and proudly as Jews.”