Bomb threat evacuates Jewish centre
Toronto community hub, Miles Nadal, latest target of anti-Semitic acts
A Jewish community centre in downtown Toronto was one of several across the continent that received bomb threats Tuesday.
The threats come as U.S. federal officials have been investigating more than120 threats against Jewish organizations in three dozen states since Jan. 9, and follow a string of anti-Semitic acts across Toronto in recent weeks.
The Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre, and the Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School inside it, were evacuated after a phone call at about10:15 a.m. out of “an abundance of caution” in light of threats made in the U.S., Toronto police said.
Mayor John Tory visited the scene, calling the incident “very traumatizing.”
The intersection of Bloor St. W. and Spadina Ave. was closed for the investigation.
Ellen Terry Cole, executive director of the community centre, said everyone is doing “fine” and that she was impressed with how emergency response teams handled the situation.
“It was a hoax, as with all (Jewish community centres) across the United States. To date, they have all been hoaxes,” Cole said.
Despite the day’s events, she expressed confidence in the local community’s desire to offer a supportive environment.
“Toronto is an extraordinary city in its diversity and in its support.” she said, recalling when members of the local Jewish community formed rings of peace around mosques after the shooting rampage at a Quebec mosque this year. She feels that level of support is mutual.
“People understand that this is a wonderful city and a place for civil discourse, understanding and if we have respect and courtesy and responsibility for each other, we will all be stronger,” Cole said.
Some people arrived at the community centre later in the afternoon, not even sure if it would be open, but were trying to stay positive.
“Unfortunately I suppose in the world right now . . . there’s a lot of reporting going on about hatred, which makes people feel that hate is OK and makes them feel like they have a voice,” said Ryan Rogerson, whose daughter was set to perform in a violin recital at the community centre Tuesday evening. The London Jewish Community Centre also received a threat Tuesday, the second it has received in the past two months, said the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
The threats follow a string of antiSemitic incidents across Toronto in recent weeks.
Two chalk-drawn swastikas were found in a classroom at York University last week.
Earlier this month, a teaching assistant accused of making anti-Semitic comments at a downtown Toronto mosque last year was fired from Ryerson University.
In February, notes with the words “No Jews,” placed above a swastika were found posted on doors at a condo building in North York.
South of the border, the Anti-Defamation League and several Jewish community centres across the country also got a round of bomb threats Tuesday, including five in New York City. With files from Megan Dolski and Star wire services