The Jewish Community Center in Mercer Island was evacuated Monday evening for an unspecified reason, as more than a dozen Jewish centers and day schools across the U.S. faced bomb threats.

Officials were vague about the nature of the threat.

No bombs were found at any of the locations, and officials at the Mercer Island center couldn’t confirm the reason for the evacuation. Bellevue police did, however, say that their bomb squad was called in to assist Mercer police and said “one could draw conclusions” for why it was called in.



The Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island was evacuated after a bomb threat Monday evening. Photo courtesy KOMO.

The Stroum Jewish Community Center on Mercer Island was evacuated after a bomb threat Monday evening. Photo courtesy KOMO.

Mercer Island Police said they don’t know how many people were inside at the time, but confirmed that everyone was safely evacuated. The FBI were also called in to investigate. 

Nadine Strauss, the executive director of Herzl-Ner Tamid synagogue on Mercer Island, said they had “prepared for the possibility” and evacuated people from the center to the synagogue.

Mercer Island police said employees at the JCC made the decision to evacuate.

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Strauss said everyone at the synagogue was “safe and comfortable, entertained and fed.”

Bellevue Police Bomb Squad were on scene to sweep the building, which Dr. Darius Zoroufy, a Mercer Island resident who passed by the scene, said is open to people of all faiths.

“Lots of parents especially like that the facility because there is so much offered there, and yes it is Jewish community center but they actually encourage people of all nationalities to go there,” said Zoroufy.

According to Zoroufy, children were being evacuated to a lot across the street and a nearby synagogue.

The threat comes the same day residents in Ballard awoke to two buildings defaced with anti-Semitic graffiti. 

Bomb threats were called into Jewish community centers and day schools Monday in at least 12 states, according to statements from the Anti-Defamation League and JCCA. The threats targeted JCCs in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

This is the fifth wave of bomb threats targeting JCCs across the U.S. and Canada since the beginning of 2017, according to the ADL. A number of JCCs have received multiple threats.

David Posner, director of strategic performance at JCCA, an association of JCCS, said in a statement, “Anti-Semitism of this nature should not and must not be allowed to endure in our communities.”

“Members of our community must see swift and concerted action from federal officials to identify and capture the perpetrator or perpetrators who are trying to instill anxiety and fear in our communities.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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