After Another Bomb Threat, Nashville Jewish Community Center Contemplates A New Normal | Nashville Public Radio

After Another Bomb Threat, Nashville Jewish Community Center Contemplates A New Normal

Jan 19, 2017

It was the second time in nine days. On Wednesday at 9:25 a.m., the phone rang at the Gordon Jewish Community Center.

A voice — robotic or human, they’re not quite sure — was on the other end of the line: "There is a bomb in your building, we want to kill all the Jews," recalls Leslie Sax, the center’s executive director.

Every time it happens, it triggers the same procedure: contact law enforcement, evacuate the building and the preschool, and alert parents that the kids are alright.

Nashville's JCC isn’t the only Jewish organization rattled by such threats. In the past two weeks there have been 44 fake bomb threats across the country.

Shelley Rose is with the Anti-Defamation League, which tracks hate crimes and extremist groups. She says the repeat calls are troubling.

"The rash that we have seen last week and this week — we normally don’t see that kind of level of anti-Semitic incidents in this short period of time," Rose says.  

Rose says bomb or no bomb, every single threat must be taken seriously.

In Nashville, the Jewish Community Center spends more than $100,000 a year on security. It’s not just as a precaution: The center was bombed in 1958, when it was hosting meetings during the Civil Rights Movement. No one was hurt, but it made the community ever more vigilant.

And Sax says the chaos, the disruption and the terror that comes in the wake of these threats is very real.

"We do what we’re supposed to do because we are not going to let them give us those emotions," Sax says. "But there is a part of you that says: 'What if, what if, what if.' "

In a statement, the FBI says it and the Justice Department are actively investigating the threats across the country.