BY DAVID J. NEAL
AND CARLI TEPROFF
MIAMI – Hundreds of children, teachers and parents were evacuated Monday from two Jewish Community Centers (JCC) in Miami-Dade and across the Eastern U.S. and in England after a series of telephone bomb threats.
In each case, no explosives were found. But the threats rattled nerves for several hours at the JCC campuses, including locations in Kendall and Miami Beach.
According to news reports, similar threats were made Monday at JCCs in Orlando, Jacksonville, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, South Carolina and three in London.
In Florida, the threats began last week.
The Tampa Bay Times reported the Tampa JCC closed early on Jan. 5 after phoned-in threats. On Jan. 4, two Jewish centers in Central Florida were evacuated after separate bomb threats. One of the centers includes a Holocaust museum.
In the last week, there have been at least eight threats at Jewish institutions in Florida, said Hava Holzhauer, Florida regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.
“I don’t know the reason, but what it does is causes fear in the community,” Holzhauer said.
“Regardless of how the threat comes in, it has to be checked out because we don’t know when it’s serious and not serious.”
Holzhauer said it’s a struggle to find a balance between reacting to threats and scaring the community. She referenced the Jan. 6 shooting at Fort-Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport as never knowing when terror could strike.
The ADL tracks all threats, Holzhauer said, because “every action begins with an idea.”
Monday’s late-morning local threats, at the Dave and Mary Alper JCC in Kendall and the Miami Beach JCC, came via phone. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said it evacuated 450 kids and 70 people who work at the Alper Center.
Miami-Dade police and Miami Beach police, respectively, swept each campus before giving the all clear. That came around 12:15 p.m. in Miami Beach, where a woman phoned in the threat and said the JCC on Pine Tree Drive needed to be cleared in an hour. Examining the much-larger Alper took until after 1 p.m.