Interfaith Issues: Spike in Anti-Semitic Incidents Continues, in New Jersey and Nationwide
A spike in anti-Semitic incidents since early January continued this week, both in New Jersey and nationwide, as the Katz Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Cherry Hill (Camden County) (see photo) and the Kaplen JCC in Tenafly (Bergen County) were evacuated on February 27 after receiving telephoned bomb threats. They were two of 13 JCCs and seven Jewish day schools across the country to receive telephoned bomb threats on that date—the fifth wave of such threats since early January. This bomb threat was the third this year for the Kaplen JCC. In New Jersey, in addition to the centers in Tenafly and Cherry Hill, JCCs in Lacey Township (Ocean County), Scotch Plains (Union County), Edison (Middlesex County), and West Orange (Essex County) have been targeted. Nationwide, there have been more than 100 telephoned bomb threats against about 70 JCCs and day schools in 32 states. No explosives have been found in any of these cases, but the disruption and anxiety caused by the evacuations and the law enforcement resources consumed have been devastating.
Juan Thompson of St. Louis was arrested last week for calling in bomb threats to eight Jewish institutions, in an attempt to frame a former girlfriend. These threats appear to be separate from the nationwide threats against JCCs, and the investigation into the broader series of threats is ongoing.
Also in New Jersey last week, on February 28, at least seven swastikas were spray-painted on a bridge in the South Orange section of South Mountain Reservation (Essex County). Park workers cleaned the markings from the bridge the same afternoon.
Governor Christie, Senators Menendez and Booker, and other officials have condemned the anti-Semitic acts. The Governor last week announced increased patrols at faith-based institutions. The state Attorney General has offered a $10,000 reward for tips from the public leading to a bias crime conviction.
Interfaith Issues: Mosques in Jersey City and Brooklyn Receive Threats From “Muslim Slayer”
A mosque in Jersey City, Masjid al-Imam, reported that it received a threatening letter last week featuring the words “Muslim Slayer” and containing derogatory anti-Muslim rhetoric. The letter was postmarked from Sheffield, England. A threatening letter signed “Muslim Slayer” was also received last week at a mosque in Brooklyn (see photo). The imam at the American Turkish Eyup Sultan Cultural Center said he received the letter at his residence. The writer used anti-Muslim rhetoric and fantasized about killing nonwhites. Mosques in Maryland, Virginia, and Georgia have received similar letters.
All faith-based groups are encouraged to report these types of threats and other suspicious activity to local police first, and then to NJOHSP.
Sikh Man in Seattle Area Shot in His Driveway; Was Told “Go Back to Your Own Country”
A 39-year-old Sikh man was working on a car in his driveway in Kent, Washington, about 20 miles south of Seattle, on March 3 when he was approached by a masked man holding a gun. After an argument, the gunman allegedly said, “Go back to your own country” and shot the Sikh man in the arm. The injuries are not life-threatening. Police are still searching for the gunman. The incident is being investigated as a possible bias crime.
The attack occurred a week after two Indian men were shot—one fatally—in a bar in Kansas by a gunman who told them to “get out of my country.”