Thomas Edson, Jillian Risavi, Ali Durkin
Editor in Chief and Assistant Producers
Across the country there have been over 50 bomb threats directed toward Jewish Community Centers in 27 different states, including New York, in the past few months. The threats are hitting close to home, as the DeWitt JCC has received three separate threats in a matter of seven weeks.
The DeWitt JCC offers daycare programs, and also has a gym and workout center for members to go get their daily workouts in, or participate in basketball, gymnastics, or other events.
The first bomb threat at the DeWitt JCC was received on Jan. 18 over the phone, just after 9 a.m. Students and staff were immediately evacuated, following regular protocol. Shortly thereafter they were allowed back into the building. Senior Zac Ripich, who attends the JCC, said he thinks “it’s sick that someone would threaten a community center, especially because of their religion.”
The second phone call made to the JCC took place on Jan. 31 around 10:30 a.m. Again, those within the building were immediately evacuated. The second time around, students and staff were not allowed back into the building until it was cleared by police personal and K-9 units.
The most recent threat occurred on March 7, around 9:40 a.m, and the facility was put under lockdown. Police and K-9 units cleared the building and did a thorough search, resulting in nothing found.
According to J-DHS freshman Andrew Jeanetta, whose mom works at the JCC, two of the bomb threats have forced children and staff to take a bus over to the DeWitt Community Church, and another bomb threat in the parking lot kept all those in the building at the time trapped in the building until it was deemed safe to leave.
Jeanetta says the threats are scary because he doesn’t get the whole story until after school, so he spends his day wondering if anything has happened at the JCC. Jeanetta’s mom also has the fear in the back of her mind that something might happen each day she goes to work.
While J-DHS has a large Jewish population, only a small amount are involved with the JCC. Senior Eric Antosh, who also attends the JCC, said the security at the JCC is quite poor. “People can come and go so easily. I haven’t seen any changes, but I think they need to make some,” said Antosh, who regularly uses the gym at the JCC to play basketball. Junior Rebecca Teitelbaum does not attend the JCC often, however she agrees security should be improved.