Cleveland Jewish community on edge after threats targeting local Jewish Community Center

Posted at 7:17 AM, Feb 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-22 11:35:56-05

Inside the National Museum of African American History and Culture, President Trump delivered his first public condemnation of anti-Semitism. "The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful” said Trump.

This after a series of bomb threats targeted 11 Jewish community centers, including one in Cleveland.

According to the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America, this makes 69 incidents at 54 Jewish Centers in 2 months. At the same time, there have been Reports of swastikas displayed on college campus and public subways.

"It felt all the more real because it was happening in Cleveland" said Rabbi Robert Nosanchuk.

It's a something Rabbi Nosanchuk says is not only alarming but all too familiar. "It touches on a cord in Jewish history that Jewish families are familiar with, including my own… Anti-Semitism is the oldest form of hatred" said Rabbi Nosanchuk.

Nosanchuk says he's already seeing the direct affects the recent rise in anti-Semitism is having on his congregation. "It's not just words… tell that to my congregant whose loved ones grave was turned over in St. Louis" said Nosanchuk.

Some have criticized President Trump for not explicitly condemning the threats when asked last week. "I am the least anti-Semitic person " Trump said at a press conference.

Among his critics the Anti-Defamation League. "It took a lot of prodding for him to come out and condemn anti-Semitism" said Cleveland ADL spokeswoman Anita Gray.

But Gray says the rise in hate crimes might just have an alternative affect. "I believe it will bring us all closer together, so the people that are perpetrating this really lose don't they" said Gray.

Ivanka Trump, a recent Jewish convert, was quick to condemn the threats, tweeting "America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship & religious centers."




More than 11 bomb threats were called into Jewish Community Centers across the country, including the Mandel Community Center in Beachwood. 

According to ABC News, threats have been communicated to more than 60 Jewish centers this year and authorities are now looking into the threats.

This year, a total of 69 threats to 54 JCCs have spanned 27 states and one Canadian province and came in four waves: Jan. 9, Jan. 18, Jan. 31 and then Monday.

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland issued a statement following Monday's threat: 

Like many JCCs around the country, the Mandel JCC received a bomb threat phone call today that was determined to be non-credible. The Jewish Federation of Cleveland's director of community-wide security was immediately on-site, working in partnership with Mandel JCC's security officers and Beachwood police, who conducted a building-wide search which included the use of bomb-sniffing dogs. They determined the threat was non-credible and the building remains open for business as usual. Recently, there have been many reported incidents of calls similar in nature to JCCs around the country. The Federation is in constant communication with local and national security organizations and continues to assess and address the safety and security of our local Jewish institutions on an ongoing basis. 

The Council on American-Islamic Relations also offered a reward for information on the threats.