Ann Arbor’s Hebrew Day School latest Jewish community center to receive bomb threat

Sunday, March 5, 2017 - 3:04pm

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Illustration by Michelle Phillips

Last Monday morning, Ann Arbor’s Jewish Community Center was evacuated after the Hebrew Day School of Ann Arbor, located within the center, received a call claiming a bomb was hidden inside a backpack in the school.

The school administration and Ann Arbor police determined there was no bomb after a thorough search of the school and community center, and the 200 students were allowed back into the building two hours after the bomb threat was made.


Over 20 Jewish schools in 11 states received similar threats on the same morning. Ann Arbor police Lt. Matthew Lige told ClickOn Detroit the police and school officials are collaborating with the FBI to determine the source of the call.

Despite the phone calls that morning, there have been no attacks on any of the schools.

According to CNN, calls of the same nature have been received by 68 Jewish Community Centers across the nation since January. A bullet was shot through the window of a classroom in an Indiana synagogue last Sunday night, and three Jewish cemeteries in three different states have been vandalized in recent weeks.

Recent threats in southeast Michigan go beyond the Jewish community, too. A threatening voicemail was left at the American Muslim Society in Dearborn on Feb. 19, claiming Muslims are “agents of Satan” and that they “will be eradicated.” The FBI has also been called upon to investigate this voicemail. In December, the Ann Arbor Islamic Center received an anti-Muslim, pro-Trump letter with similar remarks.


On Friday, former journalist Juan Thompson, a St. Louis resident, was arrested in New York for making some of the bomb threat calls to Jewish centers around the country, but law enforcement officials do not think Thompson was behind other calls.

While there has been no information released regarding whether Thompson made the call to Ann Arbor last week, officials discovered he was responsible for a bomb threat to a Jewish school in Farmington Hills, Mich., at the beginning of February.

David Shtulman, the executive director of the Ann Arbor Jewish Federation, feels dismayed by the attacks. He said he wants more of a response from the Ufederal level.

"It's sad that this is happening," Shtulman said. "I think it's part of the larger sadness that's happening all across the country to all kinds of groups. Personally, I wish that the president of the United States would speak out a little bit more forcefully. It's time for the administration to really speak out and say, 'We're not going to tolerate this anymore.' "

President Donald J. Trump, whose senior adviser, Steve Bannon, penned several anti-Semitic articles, issued a statement condemning anti-Semitic acts on Feb. 21. However, many Jewish leaders, in the same vein as Shtulman, criticized the president for not responding to the acts — which have been occurring consistently since the beginning of January — sooner or in a more personalized fashion.

"The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil," Trump said.