Montgomery County Considers $225K to Protect Jewish Community Against Threats

Bender JCC receives sixth bomb threat of 2017

The Bender Jewish Community Center in Montgomery County, Maryland, received its sixth bomb threat of the year Tuesday, the same day a bill was introduced in the Montgomery County Council to increase security at JCCs in the county.

The Anti-Defamation League and several Jewish community centers across the country got bomb threats Tuesday, adding to the scores they have been plagued with since January. Over the course of Monday evening and Tuesday, there were eight emailed or phoned-in bomb threats in six states plus Ontario, the JCC Association of North America said.

The email bomb threat prompted immediate action Tuesday morning at the Bender JCC of Greater Washington. It was the sixth threat they've received since January.

“We got our first telephone bomb threat Jan. 8,” Bender Chief Executive Officer Michael Feinstein said. “Since then we conduct a sweep every morning. Today we conducted a second sweep to make sure it's safe.”

They didn’t let the threat disrupt operations.

“We didn’t close at all,” Feinstein said. “We were able to keep operating as normal and we alerted the police and the FBI and forwarded them the email bomb threat that we received.”

Parents of the children who attend preschool at the JCC were notified of the threat.

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“We are very prepared,” said Ora Cohen Rosenfeld, head of the JCC preschool. “We do drills with the children so the parents feel very secure with their children being here.”

A bomb threat disrupted the day at the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville Feb. 27.

As a result, on Tuesday the Montgomery County Council began considering a $225,000 supplemental community grant for the Jewish community requested by County Executive Ike Leggett to install more security cameras and to replace old windows in school rooms with new ones that resist bomb blasts.

“I am confident that our council will take this step,” Montgomery County Council President Roger Berliner (D) said. “I have conveyed to the county executive that to the extent to which the Muslim community is targeted as well that we would expect the county executive to come forward with a request to address that issue.”

The grant money was originally scheduled for next year but was moved up for consideration at a hearing next month because of the recent threats.

“We have always been a very strong community, particularly here in Montgomery County,” said Meredith Weisel of the Jewish Community Relations Council. “We are very grateful to the council, and for the county executive in particular, who have recognized the threat.”

Federal officials have been investigating more than 120 threats against Jewish organizations in three dozen states since January and a rash of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries.

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