May 26, 2024
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May 26, 2024
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Manhattan Synagogues Face Bomb Threats Amid Rising Antisemitism

On Saturday, May 4, more than a dozen synagogues and Jewish institutions in Manhattan received a disturbing bomb threat via email. The threat came amidst a recent spike in antisemitism due to ongoing anti-Israel protests across New York colleges, leaving local Jewish residents on high alert. Upon investigating the threat, law enforcement ultimately deemed it “not credible,” but its appearance makes one thing abundantly clear: Manhattan Jewish institutions and their constituents do not feel safe in this current climate.

According to The New York Post, the email stated: “Hello, if you see this email, just have notice of a bomb I have set inside of your building…you have a few hours to disarm or else blood will shatter everywhere.” Law enforcement officials told the Post that the group which sent the email was calling itself “Terrorizers111.” Overall, the group targeted 14 Manhattan synagogues and Jewish centers, as well as five more in Queens, two in Brooklyn, two upstate and one on Long Island.

Upon receiving the threat, Congregation Rodeph Sholom on West 83rd Street on the Upper West Side was evacuated by the NYPD as a precaution. In a message to congregants, Executive Director Barbara Zakin confirmed that a search was done of the premises but nothing was found.

During this time on Saturday, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced she was “actively monitoring” the situation, writing that even though the threats were deemed not to be credible, New York “will not tolerate individuals sowing fear and antisemitism. Those responsible must be held accountable for their despicable actions.”

The following day, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) released a statement announcing the designation of $400 million in federal funding for the protection of houses of worship. He wrote on X, and later posted to his other social media accounts: “Last night’s bomb threats targeting New York City synagogues created immense fear, but sadly, these threats are not a total shock given the rise in antisemitism that we have seen and the overall spike in threats to places of worship.”

Sen. Schumer also held a press conference with Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on May 5, after consulting with FBI officials about the threats.

“The second I heard about the threats, your heart sinks, you hope it’s a hoax. And in this case, thank God, it was,” said Schumer. “But that doesn’t [negate] the fear, the trauma when synagogues and other houses of worship have to be evacuated. The fear and trauma when they have to be evacuated stays with the congregants, and people who go the next day wonder, ‘Is it going to happen again, am I safe?’”

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine called the pattern of threats a “hate crime” and said there is a growing trend of “swatting,” when individuals report fake emergencies to authorities, targeting Jewish institutions.

“We are witnessing a dramatic increase in antisemitic incidents across the United States,” said Community Security Service (CSS) CEO Richard Priem in a statement to The Jewish Link. “We are also seeing a growing number of institutions signing up for our programs. Although the latest bomb threats — while not deemed credible by law enforcement — are intended to intimidate our community, the fact that so many Jews are stepping up for training to volunteer to secure their own institutions is sending a powerful message that we will not shy away from protecting our Jewish way of life. We will continue to grow our network of trained security volunteers to ensure the Jewish way of life can continue and flourish.”

Law enforcement continues to investigate the source of the May 4 threat. As of press time, no arrests had been made.

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