rabbi and head of the 

Charles E.Smith Jewish Day School in 

Rockville, Maryland

What happens when someone calls a school
to say he plans to blow up the building while
spouting a vile and sadistic anti-Semitic

On Monday, the school I lead received such 
a call. One moment smiling, high-fiving 
students were entering the campus to begin 
their week; the next that sense of joy and 
welcome was shattered and became dread
and danger.
My school was not the first to receive such 
threat, and it was not the only school or
community center affected that morning. 
In fact, since Jan. 1 more than 100 Jewish 
day schools and other Jewish institutions 
across the country have been forced to react 
to bomb threats. Other faith traditions,
including Muslim organizations and mosques,
have also received threats.
What occurred because of that phone call? 
Two very different things. 
The first result was a major disruption and 
violation of our right to safety and security. 
Students who had just sat down to study the 
ancient texts of our tradition, or gene therapy,
or trigonometry, received the emotional 
shock that someone wanted to destroy their
school simply because it was a Jewish 

Parents who had just begun their workdays 
felt their hearts skip a beat as they received 
the news that their children were in danger. 
Faculty and staff were thrust instantly into 
positions challenging them to show their 
students care and calmness while, at the
same time, they held the very real feeling 
that an explosion might take place at any
moment. The staff and administration spent
countless hours responding to parents, 
community members and the media. 

What should have been the beginning of a 
normal week of learning instead brought
feelings of fear and anxiety accompanied 
by physical threat — exactly what the 
perpetrator sought to accomplish.
But something else — something wonderful 
and amazing — happened, too.

Later that day, and throughout the rest of the 
week, I received countless emails, phone 
calls and letters from concerned citizens and
local and religious leaders expressing their
support for our students and our community. 

Then a news conference was held where
both U.S. Senators from Maryland, three U. S.
representatives and virtually all of the major
elected officials of our county condemned the
bomb threats and the hatred they represent in
clear and strong language.

The climax of this outpouring came when
more than 40 religious leaders filled our
stage to announce their condemnation 
and support. 

Thus, the second outcome of the bomb threat
was an unexpected bolstering of my faith in
what it means to be an American and in the
American experiment that I believe in so

Seeing those religious leaders, representing
Anglicans, Catholics, Episcopalians, Hindus, 
Muslims and Sikhs,among others, was one
of my proudest moments as an American.  The
leaders stood tall to proclaim that when one
religious groups's constitutional right to 
worship and congregate freely is threatened, all
religious groups are threatened.  This is 
what Americans do in difficult times:  We stand
up for each other.  

At that moment, it was abundantly clear to
me - and to the hundreds of others in the
auditorium - that those responsible for 
threats made in hatred had unleashed an
outpouring of love and support. 

As the United States experienced a 
precipitous rise in hate speech over the 
past  year, I expected it would the Jewish
community that would need to stand up for
the rights of Muslims, Hispanics, and other 
groups being targeted.  Seeing those religious
and elected leaders stand up for my own 
community reassured me that the American 
values that have enabled American Jews to 
flourish in this country will continue to be a 
source of strength for all Americans.

Rather than darkness and hate, a bomb 
threat brought light and hope for our future
as a country.


Such a strong community stand should serve as
a towering example to all who believe that ...