By TONIA HILL
The Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Chicago, 30 S. Wells St., was one of five others that received an anonymous bomb threat over the weekend, according to the Chicago Police Department (CPD).
An employee of the JCC Chicago received an email on Sunday morning, March 12, according to Addie Goodman, executive vice president of JCC Chicago. The email threat she said referenced the Jewish holiday of Purim, which was celebrated over the past weekend March 10-12.
Though, the email threat was sent directly to JCC Chicago Goodman said they conducted necessary security measures to ensure that it was safe for the community to attend the Purim carnival that was set to be held Sunday afternoon at noon at the JCC in Hyde Park, 5200 S. Hyde Park Blvd.
Police determined that the threats were not genuine.
“The Purim Carnival taking place at the JCC had not yet begun. So we were able to ensure that the location was safe before the festivities began at noon,” Goodman said.
The JCC received an all clear from the police before the start of the event.
The Purim Carnival took place without incident according to Goodman and was widely attended and was one of the largest crowd of attendees that they’ve seen to date.
“In this case, we were able to get an all clear in partnership with local law enforcement prior to the start of the festival and communicate with our community members shortly thereafter, Goodman said.
The JCC in Hyde Park received a phoned-in bomb threat on Monday, February 20. The call came in on Monday at 10:10 a.m., according to the CPD.
The building was not evacuated, and officers searched the building with staff and determined the threat was not genuine. They were given an all clear at 11:45 a.m. and business proceeded as usual after the search.
Due to the Presidents’ Day holiday Akiba-Schechter Jewish Day School, 5235 S. Cornell Ave., which is next door to the JCC, was closed so no children were on its campus and regular programs at JCC were not in session. The children participating in the JCC’s School’s Out program were away on a field trip when the threat was called in, so there was no need for an evacuation.
Anonymous bomb threats are an issue that Jewish schools and community centers across the nation are experiencing. Last week, Tuesday, March 7, a Jewish Day school in Edgewater was evacuated, one of a dozen threats sent to Jewish schools and centers nationwide.
According to Police a male called the school at 9:10 a.m., and said there was a bomb inside. School staff members decided to move students and faculty to a safe location. Police gave an all-clear around 11 a.m. and let everyone inside.
Goodman, in a previous article in the Herald, said the JCC has a comprehensive, robust security plan in place.
“We continue to be vigilant and very much on top of our security procedure and protocol,” Goodman said. “JCC Chicago is proud to continue to offer programs services and experiences for all of our community members and that continues regardless any external factors. We will not be deterred by phone calls and emails.