Jewish Center Threats

On February 27, 2017, the news became personal.

On February 27, 2017, a bomb threat was phoned in to the Mid-Island Y Jewish Community Center, in Plainview, NY. That’s about 15 minutes from my house.  I’d been to the Y for an event just a week earlier.   The threat was virtually in my own back yard.

That call to the Mid-Island Y was one of over 100 similar calls placed to Jewish community centers, schools and other institutions around the country in the early months of 2017.    Coupled with other bias incidents, such as the myriad of threats against Jewish journalists; the vandalism of Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia; and swastikas and other graffiti appearing on college campuses and in public parks, the calls instilled a palpable fear in the Jewish community.

Anti-Semitism has always been with us.  But recent years have seen an increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents.  In November 2016, the FBI reported that while previous years had seen a decrease in such crimes, 2015 saw a 9% increase in anti-Semitic crimes over the previous year.  Some 53.3% of all religiously-motivated hate crimes in 2015 were committed against Jews, though Jews make up less than 2% of the country’s population.  While the FBI has not released statistics for 2016 or 2017, other sources confirm an upward trend in anti-Semitic incidents in the wake of the November 2016 election.  The NYPD, for example, reports an increase in all bias crimes in 2017, led by anti-Semitic hate crimes. 

Arrests were made in the bombing threats, and yet the fear remains. Other threats to our community remain.

Most Jewish institutions here on Long Island, and elsewhere, have increased their security.  It feels weird to walk into the synagogue that has been a part of my life since I was a child, because now there is a security guard on duty in the lobby. His job is to make us all feel safe. And yet I cannot shake the feeling that I have somehow stumbled into an alternate reality that makes his presence in a house of worship necessary.

Throughout the presidential campaign I heard, from members of my synagogue:  “But he can’t be an anti-Semite..  His daughter converted, his grandchildren are Jewish.” 

Perhaps they are right.  But from the moment he came down that escalator in Trump Tower to announce he was running, Trump’s anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant rhetoric has emboldened the alt-right.  The White Supremacists, who until recently hid their hatred in the shadows, are now fully in the mainstream.  And Trump, in playing to his base, has been slow to disavow their hate, slower still to speak out against them. 

That a President of the United States has to be urged to make a statement against anti-Semitism, that he has to be embarrassed by the press before he can bring himself to make such a statement...

Too little, too late.

And don't get me started on his press secretary.  Hitler didn't gas his own people?  Actually he gassed MY people.  In concentration camps, not "Holocaust centers".  Maybe Mr. Spicer needs a ticket to the Holocaust museum.

On March 2, 2017, I stood in the parking lot of the Mid-Island Y.  There were 400 of us gathered together that bitterly cold night – Jews, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, politicians, religious leaders, and families with children.  The full diversity that is Long island.  We stood together to say:  “Not here, not now, not in our community.” 

It gives me hope.

Today's A to Z Challenge post brought to you by the letter...


  1. Personal ties to a particular group does not prevent -isms.

    1. This is sadly true. People think they're then immune to the accusation. "I'm okay because some of my best friends/family members are..."

    2. He skipped his grandson's bris last summer, he skipped the White House Seder. Can't imagine why.


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