EDITORIAL: Hate has no home in York
- The local JCC was one of 21 Jewish centers and schools nationwide receiving bomb threats Monday.
- There will be an interfaith gathering at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church.
- It's too soon to say if there has been a rise in anti-Semitic activities since the election.
An act of domestic terror has come to York.
There's no other way to describe an act that forces adults to hastily bundle up children from a day care and take them to a location where they will be safe.
The York Jewish Community Center was prepared Monday morning when a person with a "robotic" voice called and said there was a bomb planted in the building.
About 200 people, including toddlers and preschoolers in the newly expanded day-care center as well as staff and members taking part in programs, evacuated the building while police with bomb-sniffing dogs swept the site, looking for an explosive.
None was found, and the JCC resumed normal activities in the afternoon.
The local JCC was one of 21 Jewish centers and schools in 12 states that received bomb threats on Monday. It's the fifth time since January that multiple Jewish centers have received these threats, with more than 90 sites on the East Coast targeted, although no bombs have been found so far.
The incident followed a weekend when hundreds of tombstones at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia were knocked over, which came after the same thing happened at a Jewish cemetery in Missouri.
Anti-Semitic activities have been going on for 4,000 years, from enslavement in Egypt to the inquisition in Europe to pogroms in Russia to the Holocaust.
It's too soon to say if there has been an actual rise in anti-Semitic activities since the election of President Donald Trump. The Washington Post points out the FBI's latest numbers on hate crimes around the country are from 2015. And after all, even though it feels like a completely different lifetime, Trump has been in the White House for less than six weeks.
But the threats at Jewish centers, schools and organizations (offices of the Anti-Defamation League have also received threats) are new, and they're a pattern.
And that is cause to worry.
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, is stepping up. He said on his Facebook page that he is circulating a letter among his colleagues in the House to ask Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to have his department recognize the threats as domestic terrorism and investigate.
The FBI and the Justice Department are already investigating, along with local police departments across the country and now in York County. Gov. Tom Wolf called the threats "reprehensible," and other politicians from Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey to state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and state Sen. Scott Wagner have decried the acts and vowed to take the steps necessary to find and punish those responsible.
In the meantime, the York JCC and JCCs around the country review their emergency plans, talk to staff and members and reassure children and parents. And they'll prepare for the next time.
Rabbi Jeffrey Astrachan of Temple Beth Israel said that blatant anti-Semitism hasn't been seen much in York County in more than 20 years, since a pig's head was left on the door of a Jewish congregation in Springettsbury Township. And it cannot be tolerated in any form.
"Not now. Not ever. Not here. Not anywhere," he said in an online post.
The community is invited to an interfaith gathering at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 2, at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church, 1907 Hollywood Drive, to begin healing and show support for their Jewish friends and neighbors.
We hope Yorkers will take the opportunity to show those who would exploit fear that hate has no home in our community.