FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sent: Feb. 22, 2017
Contact: Roberto Valdez, Communications Director
Jewish Organizations and Members of Congress Urge Federal Agencies To Address Bomb Threats Against Jewish Community Centers
In 2017, 53 JCCs in 26 States Have Been Targeted
WASHINGTON—U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, Fla. has authored a letter urging the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Attorney General, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to take swift action to address the significant number of bomb threats that have been telephoned in to Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) across the nation. Murphy’s letter—which she co-led with House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley of New York—is signed by over 150 Democratic and Republican Members of Congress, in a strong showing of bipartisan support. In addition, the letter has been endorsed by several dozen Jewish organizations throughout the country, including The Jewish Federations of North America, JCC Association of North America, the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, and the Roth Family JCC of Greater Orlando.
Murphy’s letter was prompted by the troubling fact that, in the first two months of 2017 alone, there have been 68 incidents targeting 53 JCCs in 26 states, according to JCC Association of North America. A number of JCCs, such as the Roth Family JCC of Greater Orlando, have received multiple threats.
“These bomb threats are unacceptable. Federal law enforcement agencies must do everything within their power to punish those responsible for the threats that have already taken place, to prevent future threats from occurring, and to ensure these threats are never converted into action. This letter urges senior federal officials to advise Congress on the steps that are being taken to deter these threats from being made, to identify and prosecute the perpetrators, and to enable JCCs to enhance security measures such as physical barriers and guards,” said Murphy.
“As the letter notes, these phone calls have a severe economic, as well as emotional, impact. JCCs provide a range of educational and community services for Jewish and non-Jewish individuals and families, with a particular focus on children and youth. The individuals who make these calls no doubt recognize that bomb threats can compromise a JCC’s financial future,” added Murphy.
For his part, Chairman Crowley stated: “There are few crimes more vile than threatening children, and these threats against Jewish Community Centers are terrifying our fellow Americans and must stop. The Trump administration, including the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Attorney General, and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, should immediately announce their plans to investigate and stop these threats. I deeply appreciate the hard work of Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy in building bipartisan support for this effort. We must thoroughly investigate these threats.”
The Murphy-Crowley letter received strong support from national and community organizations, many of whom contacted their representatives in Congress to request that they sign the letter.
William Daroff, The Jewish Federations of North America’s senior vice president for public policy, commended the purpose and timeliness of the letter, stating: “While the bomb threats in question have been revealed to be hoaxes, the calls were intended to sow fear and disrupt lives and communities and must be taken seriously. The JCC bomb threats follow a growing record of plots, attempted attacks, and deadly occurrences targeting the Jewish community at home, a rise in anti-Semitic hate groups organizing, and an assessment by the National Counterterrorism Center, FBI and DHS that violent homegrown extremists are prioritizing ‘soft targets’ such as Jewish communal institutions.”
In addition, Stephen P. Seiden, the chairman of JCC Association of North America’s board of directors, stated: “JCC Association of North America applauds this bipartisan effort toward an issue impacting communities across the country, and we are grateful for Rep. Murphy and Rep. Crowley’s leadership. We urge the administration and federal agencies to continue joining us in prioritizing our communities’ safety, and we look forward to seeing the perpetrators brought to justice quickly. The JCC movement has been a part of North America’s landscape for the last century, and as we celebrate our centennial, we draw strength from our mission to enhance not only Jewish life, but community life as a whole.”
Furthermore, Olga Yorish, the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, stated: “The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando applauds Rep. Murphy for taking the lead on an issue of critical importance to our community. As the owner/manager of the Maitland Jewish Community Campus, the Federation is fully committed to the safety and security of all who use our campus, and we are pleased that Rep. Murphy and other lawmakers share that commitment.”
Finally, Ronnie Bitman, the president of the board of directors of the Roth Family JCC of Greater Orlando, stated: “The Roth Family JCC of Greater Orlando is grateful for our representatives coming to our aid in this time of need. Our community center’s roots are strong, having provided for the central Florida community for nearly forty-five years, and now, with the advocacy of our elected leaders, we will remain strong and steadfast in implementing our mission of building community, strengthening family life, and promoting Jewish values.”