LA Jewish center threats have community on edge

Alexis Keiner never thought she would send her children to a religious school, let alone a Jewish community center.

She lives with her husband and two daughters in Mid-City, Los Angeles and is not Jewish. But after her eldest son passed away, Keiner says the Westside JCC embraced her.

“They stood by us at a time when it was really difficult for our family,” Keiner says. “The least we can do is be here.”

Keiner’s younger daughter is one of the roughly 1,000 children, seniors and staff that were evacuated earlier this month from the Westside JCC after it received a bomb threat. Brian Greene, the executive director of the center, says it was the second time he was forced to evacuate in March.

“We are seeing this rise in antisemitism,” Greene says. “We’re seeing these attacks on us and we are feeling it, absolutely.”

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Nationwide, there have been 146 threats since the beginning of the year.

So far, an international investigation has led to the arrest of two people — Juan Thompson, a former journalist; and an Israeli-American teen. A court in Israel has decided not to release his name.

But that still has not brought closure to a number of LA Jews, and those who frequent Jewish institutions.

“I hope that the climate improves,” says Susan Kaypon, a senior who frequents the center to take its exercise classes. “But there have been too many of them. Some people say, ‘oh well there’s always antisemitism,’ but not like it has been.”

A map of nationwide threats can be found below:

(Courtesy of ProPublica