An Update For Our Community

Dear JCA Community,

As you may be aware, email and web-form bomb threats were made today against several Synagogues in Maine. Bomb squads checked the facilities and nothing was found; in addition, State, Federal, and SCN investigations have found the threats not credible. These threats are part of a broader pattern of incidents categorized as “swatting”, and Jewish facilities nationwide have received these threats at historic levels in the past few days.

This issue predates the attacks of October 7th and the war in Israel, and has unfortunately been a necessary feature of our institutional training for several years. Between September 14-17th of this year (around Rosh Hashanah), there were 15 reported incidents of an individual calling authorities and falsely reporting a bomb inside a Jewish facility. During the same timeframe in September, there were at least 10 incidents of Jewish facilities receiving direct threats via their online contact form or email.

As media coverage of swattings and bomb threats targeting Jewish institutions has intensified, individuals within extremist networks have begun advertising and suggesting additional swattings. SCN has identified at least one instance of an unidentified individual in an online forum advertising to teach others how to conduct similar swattings for a fee.

SCN will continue provided training to local Jewish institutions to help all of us establish and develop our protocols to manage these incidents. Clergy, staff, and lay leaders will continue to work together to keep our communities safe while operating as normally as possible.

Talking to children about these issues can be particularly difficult; PJ Library has been updating their list of resources actively since 2017: https://pjlibrary.org/beyond-books/pjblog/january-2017/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-scary-situations.

While it is both enraging and devastating to know that there are those who wish to disrupt and terrorize us, the best way we can respond is by refusing to give this more attention than is necessary to neutralize any threat. We are so grateful for the support of our law enforcement partners at the local and national level. Our primary focus must continue to be living our lives openly, safely, and with joy and pride.

 

-Molly Curren Rowles
Jewish Community Alliance
Executive Director

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