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Community comes together after York JCC bomb threat

Christopher Dornblaser
505-5436/@YDDornblaser
  • About 200 people came together in solidarity after a bomb threat at the York JCC this week.
  • Representatives and community members spoke about coming together and peace during the event.

Rosalie Bowman, of Springettsbury Township, said when she heard about the bomb threat at the York Jewish Community Center on Monday, she was "numb."

Clergy members from area churches lift their voices in song as community members gather during an interfaith service of healing and solidarity with the York Jewish community at Luther Memorial Church in York Township, Thursday, March 2, 2017. The service was held in light of bomb threats made earlier in the week, involving the Jewish Community Center. Dawn J. Sagert photo
Pastor David Tietje, of St. John's UCC in Red Lion, speaks as community members gather during an interfaith service of healing and solidarity with the York Jewish community at Luther Memorial Church in York Township, Thursday, March 2, 2017. The service was held in light of bomb threats made earlier in the week against the Jewish community center. Dawn J. Sagert photo
Dave Bowman, center left, and Rosalie Bowman, center right, of Luther Memorial Church, sing with the congregation as community members gather during an interfaith service of healing and solidarity with the York Jewish community at Luther Memorial Church in York Township, Thursday, March 2, 2017. The service was held in light of bomb threats made earlier in the week, involving the Jewish Community Center. Dawn J. Sagert photo

"It was just one more piece of bad news coming through the television," she said.

But when she heard what had happened that day and heard of children, still wet from the pool, being evacuated from the center, she thought differently.

Community members gather during an interfaith service of healing and solidarity with the York Jewish community at Luther Memorial Church in York Township, Thursday, March 2, 2017. The service was held in light of bomb threats made earlier in the week, involving the Jewish Community Center. Dawn J. Sagert photo

"I felt as though I needed to do something," Bowman said.

On Thursday night, Bowman, along with about a dozen others, spoke to a room filled with nearly 200 people at the Luther Memorial Church, which is across the street from the JCC, in Spring Garden Township. Bowman, along with others, shared messages of peace and solidarity.

York JCC evacuated in latest spate of threats

Event: Members of York Interfaith put together a community healing and solidarity event after the threat. The church was completely filled with people of all faiths, and members of different religious communities spoke.

Bowman said she had gotten an email from her pastor, Laura Haupt, of Luther Memorial Church, asking people to share their feelings about the threat. She mentioned that there is a sign saying "Everyone is Welcome" at the JCC. Three days later, the sign still remains.

"I think that says a lot about our neighbors across the street," she said.

Rabbi Jeffrey Astrachan, from Temple Beth Israel in York, said the threats have shaken members of the Jewish community to the core, but he noted he has taken comfort in the passion others have shown.

"The act of intimidation to any one of our neighbors is unacceptable to us all," he said.

Representatives: Many representatives from the area made appearances at the event Thursday night.  U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, condemned the threats.

"I don't understand them, and I'm sure you don't either," he said to the crowd.

Pastor Katie Brantner, of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Glen Rock, read a statement from Gov. Tom Wolf. Wolf's statement shared similar thoughts, once again condemning the threats.

"The silver lining of all this is we've seen the best of Pennsylvania," Brantner read from Wolf's statement, referencing the support for the Jewish community throughout the state.

State Rep. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, said she would be working with people across the aisle to help create a resolution to stop the hatred.

"Hate-based crime is not Republican or Democrat," she said.

Phillips-Hill said that the collective response can help stop the hatred.

"Good, in the end, will triumph over evil," she said.

Response: The church held about 200 people, filling every seat. Cindy Ryan, of Windsor Township, was one of them.

"I've been praying 24/7 since this happened Monday," she said.

Ryan called the event a "faith share" and said it was a good way to support the community. She said she was praying to help stop the threats.

"I think everybody else feels the same," she said.

Afterward, Haupt said she was expected about 150 people. She said there were 150 programs made, but they ran out well before the service started.

Haupt said she was delighted at the turnout.

"I just think it's so important for us to be together," she said.

She emphasized the importance of bringing different people together.

"Just to get to know people who are different — I think changes the world."

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at cdornblaser@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser