Over the past month, Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) nationwide have been receiving bomb threats. The threats started earlier last month and since January 9th there have been 59 threats made to the organization, causing centers to evacuate repeatedly. An unknown woman has been linked to the some of the calls. None of the threats were credible, but nonetheless have shaken parents and families.
Some parents and JCC administrators are urging others not to let fear keep them from returning to their JCCs. Samantha Taylor, a mother of three near Orlando, Florida, has a three-year-old daughter who attends preschool at the Roth Family Jewish Community Center of Greater Orlando, which has received three bomb threats in just over two weeks. Taylor, a board member at the JCC, was on campus for the first one.
"Our teachers and staff are trained for this type of thing, and I was glad I got to see first-hand how impressive they were," Taylor told TODAY Parents. "Within minutes of being called, the entire campus was evacuated — all the while, the kids thought it was a fun nature walk."
Though the episode was nerve-wracking, Taylor said experiencing the first evacuation herself helped her manage her anxiety when the subsequent threats occurred. "Seeing it with my own eyes made all of the difference to me — I wasn’t as upset as I might have been when we got the second and third calls," she said. "I could visualize where my daughter was, and I knew her safety was the main concern. It’s understandably frightening, but I know that my daughter is 100 percent safe there. I can’t imagine her being anywhere else."
Taylor said during the lockdown and subsequent evacuation, the young children of the JCC's preschool "were dancing and having snacks. We’ve got to keep our kids as innocent as we can these days."