Almost a dozen Jewish community centers across the United States received bomb threats on Monday, The Times of Israel and other media outlets reported. At least one Jewish cemetery was attacked by vandals.
Threats to 11 Jewish community centers ranging from St. Paul, Minnesota; Houston, Texas; Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Birmingham, Alabama, were reported. Initial reports of 10 threats were updated to 11 Monday afternoon when a threat was phoned in to a center in Oklahoma.
The wave of bomb threats against Jewish community centers is the fourth in the past two months.
"It appears to be the same serial caller" as in January said Paul Goldenberg, director of Secure Community Network, which works with Jewish groups and institutions on security issues.
Some, but not all, of the centers were evacuated.
"The JCCs are very well equipped to handle this," Goldenberg said.
NBC News' Peter Alexander tweeted that a total of 54 Jewish community centers in 27 states have received threats this year, and that the FBI says it and the Justice Department are investigating the cases as "possible civil rights violations."
Betzy Lynch, Director of the Levite Jewish Community Center in Birmingham, Alabama, told Haaretz that someone called the center saying "There's a bomb in the building." It was not clear, Lynch said, whether the recording was live or recorded.
The Levite JCC also received a threat during the wave of threats in January.
"Anti-Semitism comes and goes in cycles, and this is a cycle," Lynch said. "There are acts of anti-Semitism throughout the United States. Alabama is a very red state, indeed, but we have received tremendous support from the greater Birmingham community. In fact, a non-Jew came into the office to join the JCC just after we resumed normal operations because he wanted to show his support.
"Clearly, someone is invoking fear against Jews, but we are not going to let them," she said.
Rabbi Barry Leff of Temple Beth-El in Birmingham told Haaretz that President Donald Trump has inspired anti-Semites to act "so far, with threats," adding that, "Racism and anti-Semitism have become more socially acceptable now."
Trump was asked during a press conference last week about the previous threats and what he was doing about anti-Semitism in the United States. Trump responded angrily that he is not anti-Semitic and called the question "insulting."
The Anti-Defamation League issued a statement saying, "We are confident that JCCs around the country are taking the necessary security protections, and that law enforcement officials are making their investigation of these threats a high priority."
"We look to our political leaders at all levels to speak out against such threats directed against Jewish institutions, to make it clear that such actions are unacceptable, and to pledge that they will work with law enforcement officials to ensure that those responsible will be apprehended and punished to the full extent of the law," ” said ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
Meanwhile, more than 100 headstones were damaged at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City, Missouri, Fox 2 Now in St. Louis reported.
Officials said it was not known whether the act of vandalism was a hate crime.
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