Arrest Of Bomb Threat Suspect Gives Milwaukee Jewish Leader Cautious Optimism

Additional Security Measures At Whitefish Bay JCC Will Continue

Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

The leader of a Jewish community center in suburban Milwaukee says he’s “cautiously optimistic” authorities have arrested the person responsible for bomb threats at dozens of Jewish facilities, including the Milwaukee-area site.

Officials in Israel say they’ve taken into custody an 18-year-old suspect, who has joint U.S.-Israeli citizenship.

The Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center of Milwaukee in Whitefish Bay has received four bomb threats this year — two by phone and two via e-mail.

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Center President Mark Shapiro said he hopes the arrest ends the threat to all Jewish facilities.

“Anytime we can take somebody who’s spreading that kind of hate and that kind of scare tactics throughout the world, we’d like them to stop doing that. We’re looking forward to the answer, but right now we don’t know for sure,” Shapiro told news reporters, following a forum at the Milwaukee Press Club.

Shapiro said the recent threats are a few of many that Jews have faced over thousands of years.

“It is the month of Adar in the year 5777 on our Hebrew calendar. We’ve had a lot bigger nutballs try to take the Jewish community down over these last 5777 years. And, there’s no way we’re going to let this happen on my watch” Shapiro told the Press Club.

Shapiro said additional security measures have been taken at the Whitefish Bay center, and will continue. He said about 1 percent of the center’s members have told him they’re not going to attend any events there for now.

But Shapiro said the great majority continue to go to classes, use the gym, or send their kids to child care programs.

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