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Bomb Threat at Staten Island Jewish Center One of 20 Hit Nationwide Monday

By Nicholas Rizzi | February 28, 2017 1:21pm

STATEN ISLAND — A call to a Staten Island Jewish center claiming a bomb was inside on Monday was one of more than 20 centers across the nation to receive similar threats that same day — forcing the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to issue a security advisory.

"While this latest round of bomb threats to Jewish Community Centers and day schools across the country again appears to not be credible, we are nonetheless urging all Jewish institutions to review their procedures," Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, said in a statement.

"We are taking this very seriously and will continue to work intimately with federal and local law enforcement — in addition to our community partners across the country — as they cope during this difficult time."

►Bomb Threat Called Into Staten Island Jewish Community Center, Police Say

The threats come as a wave of anti-Semitic incidents have swept the nation, including the recent destruction of headstones at Jewish cemeteries in Pennsylvania and St. Louis. Since January, Jewish centers across the country have received more than 90 hoax threats, according to the ADL.

On Feb. 16, President Donald Trump criticized an Orthodox Jewish reporter who asked about the spate of incidents. But last week, for the first time, Trump condemned the acts after he was previously accused of being too passive.

"The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible, and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil," Trump said, according to the New York Times.

On Monday Congressman Dan Donovan repeated his call for an investigation into the rise in threats.

"Anti-Semitism and hatred of any kind will not be tolerated in our communities. Members of the JCC and the Jewish community should know that people of all faiths stand with them in denouncing intimidation and threats," Donovan said in a statement.

"Just last week, I called for an investigation into the rise of anti-Semitic acts across the nation, which has now unfortunately affected Staten Island."

While the ADL's headquarters in New York City received a bomb threat last week, the Staten Island JCC is the only Jewish center in the city to have been targeted, police said.

The first incident was Jan. 11, when workers found a swastika and bomb threat painted on a wall inside their 1466 Manor Road location, according to police and the JCC. Staff and members were evacuated and no bomb was found, police said.

On Monday, a man called the same building and said a bomb was at the site. The NYPD conducted sweeps at the three JCC locations in the borough, but found no devices.

"It's a national problem," said Assistant Chief Edward Delatorre, NYPD borough commander for Staten Island. "It's in several states and there have been numerous incidents. We are taking it very seriously."

The JCC has continued regular operations and said they have coordinated with authorities to maintain the safety of staff and members.

"It is imperative that immediate steps be taken to respond to the situation and identify and prosecute the perpetrators, so that we can stop future acts of intimidation," Staten Island JCC executive director David Sorkin wrote in a letter posted online. "As a community, we must work together to combat anti-Semitism in all its forms."

After the threats, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered state police to investigate the incidents with local authorities and pledged to punish the caller or callers.

"I share the pain and the outrage of so many New Yorkers who are affected directly and those who are sickened by watching these attacks unfold," Cuomo said in a statement.

"We will not allow anyone to intimidate or strike fear in the state of New York. The full force of government will be brought to bear in these efforts and these perpetrators will be punished."