Jewish Community Center reopens following threatening phone call

Facilities return to normal operations following nearly two-hour closure

The Oshman Family Jewish Community Center campus was closed for about two hours this evening after staff at the facility received a threatening phone call, the organization said on Twitter.

The call contained a bomb threat, an email from the JCC to its members stated.

The site at 3921 Fabian Way was evacuated and parents were notified of where to pickup their children, according to a tweet posted at 5:25 p.m.

Police was notified of the situation and worked with Oshman Family JCC to make sure the campus was deemed safe. The campus was shut down and classes were canceled during the closure.

Claire Lee said on Twitter that she was at the gym on campus and her two children were in the crèche (also known as a day care center) when they were asked to leave at 5:28 p.m. She and her kids were able to safely evacuate, but called the scene at the parking lot "chaos" as everyone was attempting to leave at the same time, she said.

Palo Alto police Agent Marianna Villaescusa said JCC staff reported the unspecified threat at about 4:50 p.m. The campus was evacuated by the time they arrived on scene.

Officers didn't find anything during their search of the campus and gave the all-clear around 7:15 p.m., Villaescusa said.

The Palo Alto site is one of nearly 24 Jewish institutions that have received threats today, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

One of those places was the league's San Francisco Regional Office where a staff member received a call at 4:19 p.m. and everyone inside evacuated without incident. It was the second threat the organization received this week and has seen nearly 90 other threats to other Jewish institutions across the country.

Other Jewish community centers throughout Northern California have received threatening phone calls in the past few weeks, the league said.

In an email announcing the "all clear," Oshman Family JCC staff stated: "Though it is distressing to receive such a call and to have to close the facilities, we are very grateful for the understanding and patience of all those who took part in the evacuation or who picked up their children from the evacuation site. The evacuation was conducted safely, and we were able to resume normal operations within about two and a half hours. We will, of course, be reviewing what we have learned from today’s events to ensure that we continue to improve our security and communications.

"As this email goes out, the vibrancy and resilience of our community is on full display: a concert is in full swing in the Schultz Cultural Arts Hall after a briefly delayed start, members are working out at the fitness center, and we have received a tremendous outpouring of support. We are touched — and awed — by the strength and warmth of this extraordinary community."

Nathaniel Bergson-Michelson, the Oshman JCC's chief marketing officer, said Tuesday that a front desk employee answered the threatening call, but couldn't provide more details on the exchange due to the ongoing investigation.

The threat was a first for the organization, but staff was prepared and trained to address a variety of security situations, Bergson-Michelson said.

He didn't know how many people were at the campus when the call was made, but everyone was able to evacuate safely.

"Any evacuation is an unusual change to our normal procedure but everyone was kept safe and everyone was taken care of," Bergson-Michelson said.

Campus staff will be evaluating Monday's incident and their security procedures to better address any future threats, Bergson-Michelson said.

Assemblyman Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, released a statement Tuesday in response to the threat made to the community center that in part read, "As a nation founded on the principle of religious freedom, threats against a specific religious community should make us all feel vulnerable.

"I call on the United States Department of Justice to take every step necessary to investigate the threats that have occurred and prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law," Berman said.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, also wrote about Monday's bomb scare in a post on her Facebook profile.

"We stand against intimidation even when it is directed at the most precious parts of our lives – the schools our children go to, the places where our friends and our families gather to celebrate and study and remember and pray," Sandberg said.


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32 people like this
Posted by Sarah1000
a resident of Los Altos
on Feb 27, 2017 at 6:50 pm

Sending love and support to everyone impacted by this threat.

17 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 7:21 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

Sadly, Jewish community centers are being targeted with bomb threats across the country today..

Web Link

35 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 27, 2017 at 7:31 pm

Jewish cemeteries are being desecrated and Jewish centers are receiving bomb threats across the country. Why is this not called terrorism? How much resources is the FBI deploying to track down the criminals before this escalates?

31 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:03 pm

"Why is this not called terrorism?"

Why hasn't our "president" denounced these actions? Is he worried he might alienate his Base? Scary, and all too likely.

Only eight years after many hopefully thought the US had achieved a "post-racial society," we have serious problems. What happened?

7 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:11 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

9 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Greater Miranda
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:23 pm

[Post removed.]

5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of University South
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:24 pm

[Post removed.]

5 people like this
Posted by Sanctimonious City
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:38 pm

[Post removed.]

6 people like this
Posted by john_alderman
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 27, 2017 at 9:41 pm

john_alderman is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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