A concerned parent who received an automated message from Lerner Community Jewish Day School told the INDY moments ago that the Durham school was being evacuated amid a bomb threat. The auto-call went out at 10:58 this morning.
The incident comes amid a wave of similar threats made against American Jews since Donald Trump was sworn in as the nation’s forty-fifth president.
Several Jewish community centers across the U.S. were targeted by bomb threats on Monday, according to the JCC Association of North America, in the fourth wave of such threats in the past two months.
In total, there have been 69 threats at 54 JCCs, in 27 states and a Canadian province, the organization reports — including previous threats on Jan. 9, 18 and 31, as well as 11 threats by telephone on Monday.
No bombs have been found, the organization says, and all the centers affected have “returned to regular operations.”
Also on Monday, a century-old Jewish cemetery in Missouri discovered apparent vandalism of dozens of headstones.
Trump condemned the threats Tuesday, but his words rang hollow to many Jewish leaders across the nation. From The Washington Post:
President Trump spoke out Tuesday against anti-Semitic threats, but his words were not enough for the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, whose executive director called the president’s acknowledgment of anti-Semitism a “Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration.”
Hollis Gauss, the president of Lerner’s board of directors and a parent of a child who attends the school, told the INDY that the bomb threat was made via phone call at roughly ten thirty this morning.
“We didn’t tell the kids anything,” Gauss says. “We just evacuated.”
Durham police responded to the scene and found no bomb. Gauss said school officials were given the all-clear at lunchtime but decided to cancel the remainder of the school day in light of what had happened.
“We think the intention is just to disrupt and scare,” Gauss says of the threat. “We’re looking forward to a normal, boring day tomorrow.”
School officials confirmed that there will be an increased police presence at Lerner for the remainder of the week. They released this official statement moments ago: