Alaska News

Anchorage Jewish center receives bomb threat amid incidents nationwide

A Jewish community center and school in Anchorage was one of at least 13 nationwide that reported receiving bomb threats on Monday.

The Lubavitch Jewish Center of Alaska received a bomb threat over the phone Monday at 3:55 p.m., said Rabbi Yosef Greenberg.

He said an administrator heard the threat, which sounded like a recording of a man's voice.

"It was sophisticated. The caller ID made it seem as if someone was calling from our own office," Greenberg said. "The voice said, 'There is a bomb in the building, and you have 20 minutes to leave the building.'"

Staff at the Jewish center had heard the national news about such threats throughout the day, and they were aware all appeared to be hoaxes, the rabbi said. Still, the center was not taking any chances.

[U.S. Jewish centers report another wave of hoax bomb threats]

About 40 kids were at the center for preschool and another afterschool activity, Greenberg said. Everyone bundled up and were sheltered inside the nearby Northern Orthopedics doctor's office, he said.

"We were warm. We were fine. We called parents and asked them to pick up the children," he said.

Greenberg said the center also called 911 immediately after getting the threat. Within minutes, Anchorage police officers and the FBI arrived.

Anchorage police spokeswoman Renee Oistad said officers responded and "nothing suspicious was found." The FBI is handling the investigation, she said.

According to Greenberg, the law enforcement officials checked every vehicle in the parking lot and the entire building.

"Everything that was possibly a threat, the dumpsters, where the children play, they checked out," he said. "After that, we went in with them to see if we could spot anything unusual, and everything turned out to be OK."

On Tuesday, the center plans to get back to its routine. The school will start as usual at 7:30 a.m., Greenberg said.

Greenberg said he does not believe the threat was locally based. Based on the sophistication of the call, he said it likely had something to do with what happened around the country.

"This is terrorism, just by the fact that it put fear into people. I hope that the authorities, the national authorities, are able to find who is behind those calls, and find out what they want and why they're doing it."

Jerzy Shedlock

Jerzy Shedlock is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2017.

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