Ann Arbor Hebrew Day School targeted by bomb threat.
The Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor received a bomb threat by telephone Monday; they reached out to the Ann Arbor Police Department at 9:20 a.m. The school has about 200 students in grades preK-5.
Hours after the bomb threat, the Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor issued this statement on Facebook: “This morning, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Ann Arbor (where our office is located) and Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor joined the growing list of Jewish organizations that have received bomb threats over the last few months. The building was promptly evacuated and searched by the bomb squad. Some time ago, we were given an all-clear, and normal operations have resumed.
“Thank you to the responding law enforcement agencies, including the Ann Arbor Police Department and the FBI, who ensure our safety each day.”
According to a report from MLive, Ann Arbor Police Detective Lt. Matthew Lige said a school staff member told police a male called the school and said there was a bomb in a backpack and that it would be detonated. The center was evacuated and the students and staff were taken to an off-site location. Police worked with the FBI and Michigan State Police; bomb-sniffing dogs searched the premises as of 11:15 a.m. and, shortly before noon, completed the search and found no explosives or suspicious packages. Students were allowed back into the building to finish the day’s instructions.
“I cannot imagine what it must have been like to have been the staff member who directly received that phone call, to hear someone threatening a building whose primary function is to be a school for children ages 1-11,” said Ben Freed, 28, who had been a student at the school, worked there as a receptionist during high school and college, and is now a rabbinical student at Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. “I am anxious to see how our local community and leaders will address this threat. Who will raise their voices? Who will stand up to support my community at this time? How will we show the children who attend elementary school and preschool that this community loves them?”
Because of the specific nature of the threat, Lige said the approach was different than a typical bomb threat. Now that the school has been swept and no explosives were found, AAPD will begin working with the FBI to determine who made the call.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the threat in Ann Arbor was one of nearly two dozen fielded by local Jewish institutions across the country on Monday, including schools in Miami and JCCs in Indianapolis and in Harrisburg and York, Pa. ADL’s San Francisco Regional Office was evacuated late Monday after a bomb threat was received by a staff person answering calls at the location.
“One threat or evacuation is one too many, and yet we’ve now seen more than 20 incidents in a single day not just to ADL, but to children’s schools and community centers — and more than 90 incidents since the start of this year,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “The level of threats and incidents is astounding, and must not stand. We will do everything in our power to combat this wave of anti-Semitism.”
Authorities told David Schtulman, Ann Arbor Federation executive director, it was unlikely they were going to catch these people just as they did not catch the others who made the calls to other JCCs. He said, “These things are more of a nuisance than a danger right now.”
“One theory is that some people are trying to make people afraid of coming to JCCs,” Schtulman said. “I say the best way to fight this is to come to all the activities at the JCC. Everyone of all faiths should come out and support the JCC and all the wonderful activities and programs we have and not be afraid.”
By Stacy Gittleman, JN contributing writer