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Jewish community centers in Mass., 16 other states get bomb threats

Jewish community centers in Massachusetts, Maine, and Connecticut were among Jewish institutions in at least 17 states targeted by bomb threats Wednesday, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

A spate of bomb threats affected Jewish centers in at least 16 states on Jan. 9.

In New England, centers in Newton; Worcester; Portland, Maine; and West Hartford, Conn., received threats Wednesday. Some organizations were evacuated out of an abundance of caution, the Anti-Defamation League said, but inspections by authorities turned up nothing suspicious.

“Whoever is behind it is targeting Jewish institutions and trying to intimidate and threaten the community,” said Robert Trestan, executive director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Boston office.

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Jewish community centers serve a diverse population in age and background and often include preschools, programs for seniors, recreational facilities, and educational classes throughout the day.

“There’s a real heightened level of fear and concern,” said Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. “These bomb threats are such low-hanging ways to create chaos and fear. The anxiety is quite palpable.”

Jewish organizations in Alabama, California, Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas also got threats, the Anti-Defamation League said.

The league issued an advisory for Jewish institutions nationwide, urging them to bolster security and review procedures for responding to threats.

In Newton, the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center received a threatening call about 9:45 a.m. Wednesday. The building was evacuated. Police and fire officials gave the all-clear within an hour, said Samantha Levine-Neudel, spokeswoman for the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston, which oversees centers throughout the area.


Globe correspondent Maddie Kilgannon contributed to this report. Lisa Wangsness
can be reached at lisa.wangsness@globe.com.