Sunday, October 22, 2017

Tenafly—Jordan Shenker, Chief Executive Officer of the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, confirmed that yesterday’s bomb threat was a hoax and and was dealt with according to established procedures. Local law enforcement confirmed that all the bomb threats to JCCs around the country were false alarms.

Shenker emphasized that the JCC is well prepared to act in these circumstances. “We have safety and security protocols in place that were effectively followed to ensure that all members, guests and children were safe at all times,” he said.

An ongoing investigation is still in progress, according to Shenker. He could not comment on specifics as that would comprise the impact of their protocols. He noted that the JCC takes specific direction from law enforcement and security consultants. “It’s not just me and a group of staff making decisions,” he said. “We consult regularly with local and national security experts, police, homeland security, the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force to get feedback and perspective on any decision we make.”

Members of the JCC on the Palisades received a jarring message yesterday, January 9, informing users of a potential bomb threat. “Please note: a bomb threat was called into the JCC this afternoon,” the message read. The message indicated that children and adults were evacuated safely to the Greek church next door, and shared the status of the ongoing police investigation. Members were encouraged to check the JCC website for updates.

As it turned out, over the next couple of hours, sixteen different facilities, spanning five different states, alerted authorities to similar calls. Thanks to the proliferation of information available on Facebook, users across the country were able to trade information back and forth about the details of their individual JCC closings and threats.

JCC MetroWest in West Orange, NJ, did not receive a threat, but sent an email to its members reassuring them that many enhanced security measures had been put into place. “We know of no immediate threat to our JCC, we have made these adjustments as part of our ongoing effort to consistently review our security program and put in place the recommendations of well qualified security professionals,” MetroWest wrote in their email. Recent adjustments include moving their security personnel to a more visible location, adding enhanced lighting to their parking areas, and increasing or altering guard rotations, on the recommendation of police and security guidelines.

After extensive investigations in Tenafly, as well as the other locations, none of the threats were considered real, and everyone was allowed to re-enter the facility. “The police have completed a thorough sweep of the JCC and deemed the threat not credible and the building safe,” wrote the JCC on their website and through text alerts. “We thank the incredible local authorities for their immediate response and ongoing support of the JCC and its security, as well as all staff, and JCC members for their calm, patience and understanding.”