ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A Jewish community center in Rochester, New York, closed temporarily on Sunday after receiving its second bomb threat in less than a week.
The Louis S. Wolk Jewish Community Center was hosting community members who had lost power in their homes when the threat came in, Executive Director Arnie Sohinki said.
Dozens of people were evacuated. The center reopened Sunday afternoon after receiving an all-clear from law enforcement. Sohinki said the JCC is grateful for the community’s support but would not provide further details, citing the police investigation.
“We are open. We will remain open. Whoever is doing this doesn’t realize this only makes us #stronger, ” the center said in a Facebook post. “All are welcome to join us at the JCC.”
It was the latest bomb threat to target a Jewish institution in a recent wave of anti-Semitic incidents across the United States. Museums, houses of worship, advocacy groups and cemeteries have been targets of bomb threats and vandalism.
Sunday’s incident brings the number of bomb threats in the United States and Canada since January to 154, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
It was not the first threat for the Louis S. Wolk JCC. The center also received a bomb threat on Tuesday, March 7, the same day another center in Syracuse and the Anti-Defamation League’s New York City headquarters received threats. No devices were found at the locations and the centers reopened soon after without incident.
Sunday’s threat coincided with the Jewish holiday of Purim, a festive commemoration of the defeat of a plot to exterminate Jews in ancient Persia.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the incident “despicable and cowardly,” especially on a holiday weekend celebrating “the resiliency of the Jewish people.”
“Like all New Yorkers, I am profoundly disturbed and disgusted by the continued threats against the Jewish community in New York. As New Yorkers, we will not be intimidated and we will not stand by silently as some seek to sow hate and division. New York is one family, and an attack on one is an attack on all,” he said in a statement.
Cuomo said he would direct state police to investigate the bomb threats in conjunction with federal officials. Last week, Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio increased a reward for information on hate crimes — not just bomb threats — to $20,000.
After the first bomb threat of the week, the center had opened its doors to those who lost power in a winter storm blanketing the Northeast.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, called the bomb threat “despicable” given the center’s service to the community.