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JCC Bomb Threats Lead To Tougher Penalties In New York

The JCC of Mid-Westchester and JCC on the Hudson in Tarrytown were among the Jewish community centers targeted in a nationwide wave of threats. Photo Credit: File
JCC on the Hudson was targeted earlier this year. Photo Credit: JCC on the Hudson

Following multiple bomb threats to Hudson Valley Jewish community centers, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill into law that will install tougher penalties on those that threaten such organizations.

The bill amends the penal law to include community centers in the definition of a “public place” as it relates to bomb threats and other offenses against public order. It takes effect in 90 days after being sponsored by Scarsdale Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and New York Sen. Patrick Gallivan.

The Jewish Community Center on the Hudson in Tarrytown and the JCC of Mid-Westchester on the New Rochelle - Scarsdale town line were forced to evacuate in February after threats were called in by phone at each location.

Both threats proved unfounded, and no injuries were reported. Students and staff have all since returned to classes. The investigations into the threats are ongoing.

Nationally, there have been more than 100 bomb threats called into Jewish community centers since the beginning of the year, actions that Paulin says “coincide with the recent dramatic rise in anti-Semitic crime.”

Paulin noted that “the series of bomb threats not only disrupted everyday activities and put strains on tight-knit communities, but also created questions about the role of government in addressing and stanching these threats of violence.”

“Protecting our residents is my highest priority,” she added. “The increase in hate crimes has shaken communities across the state and most recently here at home, the JCC of Mid-Westchester, where my kids went to nursery school. We must use every means possible, including legislation, to thwart acts of hatred everywhere.” 

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