On Monday, February 27, the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill, NJ received a bomb threat in a string of over a hundred various threats targeting Jewish Community Center’s and other Jewish organizations around the nation.
At around 10:40 a.m., the Katz JCC received the threat via phone and was safely evacuated with local law enforcement arriving immediately.
“The staff was ready to act… everybody knows what is important to do in the event of an emergency. We just made sure we did our roles and had members exit the building as quickly as possible.” Said Stephanie Dworkin, marketing director at the Katz JCC.
Dworkin, who has worked at the Katz JCC for four years and grew up at her local JCC in Bridgewater, NJ said that she has never received any threat such as this one.
Once the Katz JCC was made aware of the threat, an alert was sent to all staff members in the building for immediate evacuation. At about 12:45 p.m., the Katz JCC was re-opened after being given the all-clear by local law enforcement agents.
“I think because of what has happened over the past weeks throughout the country, we are prepared if anything is to happen again.” Said Dworkin.
Since early January, the JCC Association of North America reports there being more than one hundred threats called into Jewish Community Center’s nationwide. As well as on Sunday, February 26, a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia was discovered to have headstones desecrated in a similar event that happened in St. Louis a week prior.
In a statement posted to their website, the Katz JCC expressed relief for all such threats being hoaxes, but expressed concern as well for the anti-semitic attitude that attempts to disrupt the life of the community.
“In light of this, we have had so much positive support from the community and because it has been happening to so many places across the country, I think that we all feel that it is important to speak in support of a place where everybody can come, regardless of religion.” Said Dworkin.
A day after the incident, hundreds of protesters gathered at the Katz JCC to denounce the wave of anti-semitism that has struck the nation.
“Threats such as these will only make our JCC and all JCC’s across the country a stronger presence in their communities” Said Dworkin.