At least seven Jewish community centers in the United States and Canada received bomb threats while they were hosting Purim events.
The threats, either called in or emailed, were reported Sunday at JCCs in Rochester, New York; Chicago; Indianapolis; Milwaukee; Cleveland; Houston, and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Most of the JCCs were evacuated and searched. None of the threats turned out to be credible.
For some of the centers it was their second threat in the past week.
The threats are part of a wave that has hit JCCs, Jewish schools and other Jewish institutions since the start of 2017. More than 150 threats have been received since the beginning of the year, according to the Secure Community Network, which coordinates security across Jewish organizations in North America.
On Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the second such threat against the Rochester JCC in less than a week “a despicable and cowardly act” of anti-Semitism. Cuomo ordered the New York State Police to launch a more intense investigation into the threats, and to work with federal and local law enforcement on the investigation.
“Like all New Yorkers, I am profoundly disturbed and disgusted by the continued threats against the Jewish community in New York,” Cuomo said in a statement. “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.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he plans to provide additional law enforcement intelligence and staffing to the JCC in Milwaukee so it “continues to be a safe place” after it was evacuated Sunday for the fourth time in six weeks.
Meanwhile, a rally was held Sunday outside the Rady Jewish Community Centre in Winnipeg, Canada, which was evacuated due to a bomb threat on Thursday, “to send a signal of unity against fear and terrorism.”
In a related development, it was reported that a synagogue in Seattle was defaced with graffiti denying the Holocaust.
“The Holocaust is fake history!” was found spray-painted on the wall of the Temple de Hirsch Sinai synagogue on Friday morning.
“There were two things we felt: shock and sadness, and resistance,” Daniel Weiner, the synagogue’s senior rabbi, told NBC News. “We were shocked that this had reached our own community and that such things, such stereotypes had become frequent. But we are also adamant to not give in to the intolerance and growing climate of hate in Seattle and our nation, and will resist.”
With more than 1,500 member families, the synagogue, founded in 1889, is one of the largest in the Pacific Northwest.
The incident comes amid a wave of threats against Jewish institutions nationwide, including more than 100 bomb threats, mostly against Jewish community centers, since the beginning of the year.