JCC MetroWest in West Orange received a bomb threat by telephone mid-morning on Tuesday, Jan. 31. Everyone in the building was evacuated safely. No bomb was found, and the building was reopened at approximately 1:15 p.m.
It was one of at least 17 threats to JCCs around the country on the same day, including JCCs in Albany, Syracuse, and Vestal, N.Y.; Boulder, Colo.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Milwaukee, Wis.
The JCC of New Haven in Woodbridge received a live threat of violence, rather than a recording, on Tuesday morning, according to JTA.
This incident marks the third time JCCs around the country have received multiple threats on the same day. In the first wave, on Jan. 9, the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly was among 16 around the country receiving threats. The second wave, on Jan. 18, targeted 30 JCCs, including the JCC of Central New Jersey in Scotch Plains and the JCC of Middlesex County in Edison.
The JCC sent an email to its members at 11:42 a.m. on Jan. 31 letting them know the building was closed, and directing them not to come to the building until receiving a follow-up message, which eventually came at 1:16 p.m.
Marcy Burach, JCC MetroWest marketing and membership director, told NJJN shortly after returning to the building, “We’re obviously upset this is happening. We’ve been working very closely with security and law enforcement, and the staff has been trained. We feel very confident and we were pleased with how things went this morning. It’s the first time we’ve had to evacuate, and we followed the protocols and our training and it worked well.” Preschoolers, seniors, people using the fitness area, staff, and anyone there for programming were among those evacuated to a nearby indoor facility.
Jacob Toporek, executive director of the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations, said that protocols were unlikely to change despite the repeated threats; on the contrary, he said, the procedures have been successfully executed and are effective. “JCCs have been evacuated efficiently and law enforcement has responded quickly and appropriately.” He added, “Reinforcement of security protocols and preparedness training continues as it should, especially in light of the three waves of threats.”