The facility was threatened with violence for the second time in five years. Police are continuing to investigate.
By Matt Skoufalos | March 8, 2022
For the second time in five years, the Betty and Milton Katz Jewish Community Center (JCC) in Cherry Hill was evacuated by a bomb threat Tuesday morning.
According to a statement from Cherry Hill Police Lt. Robert Schuenemann, authorities responded to the center in the 1300 block of Springdale Road around 8:40 a.m.
With the assistance of FBI agents and K-9 units from the Burlington County Sheriffs’ Office, investigators worked to clear the building, which had been self-evacuated.
They did not discover any explosives in their search, and the center is scheduled to reopen at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The incident remains under investigation.
“Safety and security of our children and other members are our primary concern,” Katz JCC Director Oded Kraus said in a written statement. “We deplore hatred and violence in any form, as we continue to remain vigilant.”
Jennifer Dubrow Weiss, CEO of Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey, issued a written statement that said the federation has made safety “a top priority.
“Our centers have in place security protocols to ensure the safety of their program participants, facility visitors, and all staff,” Weiss said.
“While we are relieved that this threat was unfounded, we are concerned about the antisemitism behind these threats, and the repetition of threats intended to interfere with day- to-day life,” she said.
“Our Jewish Federation and family of agencies serve not just the Jewish community, but the entire community. Participants from all different backgrounds visit to use our facilities, receive social services, take part in cultural and religious programming, and for the opportunity to come together as a community.”
Tuesday’s incident reflects what the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported last week as near-record levels of white supremacist propaganda circulate across the country.
Despite a downturn in the total number of such incidents from levels reported in 2020, the organization noted an uptick in anti-semitic messaging in its analysis of incidents reported in 2021.
According to the ADL H.E.A.T. Map, New Jersey sustained 323 such incidents in 2020, with four reports of white supremacist propaganda identified within Cherry Hill specifically.
Anyone with information is asked to call Cherry Hill Police (856-488-7833). Anonymous tips may be submitted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, through Nixle, or by texting TIP CHERRYHILLPD followed by your message to 888777.
This is a developing story; stick with NJ Pen for updates.
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