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Jewish Community Center In Chicago Cleared After Another Bomb Threat

By Sam Cholke | March 13, 2017 12:28pm
 After searching the Hyde Park Jewish Community Center late Sunday night, Chicago police determined an emailed threat was unfounded.
After searching the Hyde Park Jewish Community Center late Sunday night, Chicago police determined an emailed threat was unfounded.
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Hyde Park Jewish Community Center 

HYDE PARK — The Jewish Community Centers of Chicago were among Jewish Centers across the country that received an anonymous threat over the weekend, according to the center’s CEO.

Alan Sataloff, CEO of JCC Chicago, in a letter Sunday said the local organization received a threat via email over the weekend threatening Purim festivities, which started Saturday evening and ended Sunday evening.

“Working with local law enforcement, JCC Chicago facilities that were open for programming today were immediately evaluated and quickly determined to be safe and secure,” Sataloff said. “All programming went on without interruption.”

Addie Goodman, executive vice president for JCC Chicago, said the threat was similar to past threats.

On Feb. 20, Hyde Park’s Jewish Community Center, 5200 S. Hyde Park Blvd., received a bomb threat by phone that was later deemed to have not been genuine, but forced a temporary evacuation of the building.

At 7 p.m. Sunday, police again did a sweep of the Hyde Park JCC with dogs and found no evidence of a bomb or other threats, according to the Chicago Police Department.

Goodman said the Hyde Park center was the only center hosting a Purim event and was the only location inspected by police.

She said anti-Semitism is not new, but the threats have increased, both by phone and increasingly by email, since January.

“It is new, it is being heavily vocalized and expressed and we are working through his climate with great care and thought,” Goodman said.

She said the Chicago centers have not seen a decline in people coming or participating in events despite the threats, but have seen an outpouring of support from people outside the Jewish community.

The most recent bomb threat in Chicago was called in to the Chicago Jewish Day School on the 5900 block of South Sheridan on March 7. The building was evacuated and the threat was later deemed to have been unsubstantiated.

So far, none of the threats against Jewish community centers in Chicago have been genuine.

Goodman said the threats have made security more of a topic of conversation.

“This is something we are prepared for and have been prepared for,” Goodman said.

No one is in custody for the threat Sunday and detectives are continuing to investigate, according to police.