Yesterday morning, the Jewish Community Center (JCC) on Wilmot Road in New Rochelle received a bomb-threat, which required the immediate evacuation of the building — children, families, staff. Dozens of other JCCs all across the country have received similar bomb threats in recent weeks, including another close by in Tarrytown.
Fortunately, there was no actual bomb, and, following a Police sweep of the building, business returned to normal. Except it’s not normal. It’s not normal for anti-Semitism to rear its ugly head in our own backyard. It’s not normal for a hateful action to disrupt our daily lives. It’s not normal for families to live with an undercurrent of fear and uncertainty.
I am not making an original observation when I say that something has changed in our country during the past few months. People inclined toward hate feel a new license to act on it. The restraining influence of social norms seems to have weakened. It is not difficult to guess why.
This must be resisted. Strongly. Not simply in defense of whatever specific group we happen to belong to, but in defense of the universal principle that all of us, whatever our individual identities and affiliations, deserve respect and security and a sense of belonging.
I visited with the Board of the JCC last night to express my support in person. I would do the same for any other institution targeted in this fashion. And while it is awful to see hate hit us close to home, I take comfort and draw confidence from the sure knowledge that our city is a welcoming, inclusive place that celebrates its diversity and utterly rejects hatred of any kind.