Today while disrupted by a telephonic bomb threat, we are not and will not be daunted.
At 9:22 am a woman caller phoned our main number and stated that there was a bomb in the building and everyone should get out. Our receptionist handled the call in a calm manner and attempted to keep the caller on the line as long as possible while trying to ascertain as much information as she could. When asked about which building the bomb was in, the caller responded with “your building,” leading us to believe that the caller was probably not familiar with our New Haven community and our current displacement from our campus.
Unfortunately, we were one of 25 communities across the country who experienced a bomb threat today in addition to 16 others who went through the same experience last week.
It is our procedure, always acting with an abundance of caution and care for the safety of community members and in consultation with law enforcement, that we determined to evacuate all facilities—4 Research Drive (Fitness), 1764 Litchfield Turnpike (JCC, Federation & Foundation Administration), 360 Amity Road (construction crews) and Yeladim and the B’nai Jacob/Ezra Academy community at Rimmon Road.
Woodbridge fire and police crews were onsite immediately and state police with bomb sniffing dogs were brought in. SCN (Secure Community Network) was notified as was the FBI and ADL. All locations were swept and no devices were found. By noon time, all facilities were back up and running.
During the summer months the Jewish Federation offered a workshop in partnership with ADL to train front line personnel to respond to threats—with an emphasis on telephonic threats. Jewish community agencies and synagogues participated in the full day workshop which also included security planning and preparedness tips. Just as we safely and calmly brought JCC members out from the fire in our building just a month ago, today I am very proud of our staff’s response to the threatening call.
We will continue to remain vigilant and work to drill on, evaluate and update our security procedures. We refuse to allow those who seek to disrupt and terrorize our community to win the day. While we understand that we live in an environment that has turned caustic, we will continue to speak out for the values and ideals that strengthen us. We stand for love, not hate. We believe in tolerance and understanding, not blindness and bigotry. There was an old UJA slogan—“we are one.” I was disappointed when they stopped using it because I believe that it is the essence of what our community is. We are one—together we are strong. United we will not fall.
I am going to take this opportunity to provide an update on our progress on our Jewish community campus at 360 Amity Road. Unfortunately, not enough time has passed for the insurance adjusters to determine the scope of work to be done. But I can share, and those who have seen our many videos posted to the JCC Facebook page will attest, that the damage is significant and that the remediation work is anticipated to continue until March 10th.
Committees are currently being organized to begin the next phase of the project. Concurrently, many discussions are taking place to assess community needs—both present and future—to develop the best vision for a re-imagined community building that will be sustainable. Next week a community planning consultant will visit for two days of meetings with agency and synagogue leadership. Community town halls will be organized over the next couple of months to provide opportunities for all to provide their input into the process.
I want to take this opportunity to offer a heartfelt thank you to the greater New Haven community who has stood steadfast with support during challenging times. I know that it has been hard to reach us as we did not have telephones up until just a few days ago and that our communications may have seemed spotty as we didn’t have computers and servers functioning properly until just last week. But your understanding and a lot of hard work have helped us turn the corner. Our operations, while spread out across the area, are running full steam and the delayed but rich Shalom New Haven will arrive in your home before the end of the month.
Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me - firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-387-2424 ext. 231.