By Daniel Odrezin,
Assistant Executive Director
Approximately 200 people packed the Pizitz Auditorium at the Levite Jewish Community Center Monday evening for a town hall meeting with local, state, and national law enforcement officials to discuss security issues on the Jewish community’s Montclair Road campus.
The meeting was arranged in response to three bomb threats that were called into the LJCC and the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School within the past two months. (The Day School received a fourth call this morning.) The bomb threats have been part of a national wave that has affected as many as 100 Jewish institutions.
LJCC Executive Director Betzy Lynch opened the meeting and repeatedly thanked law enforcement partners, LJCC members and staff, as well as pre-school and Day School parents for supporting the campus in recent weeks. She also thanked the Birmingham Jewish Foundation’s Board of Directors for recently approving a large funding grant for emergency short and mid-term security needs for the campus.
After all members of the panel introduced themselves and explained their role in addressing the threats, audience members were given the opportunity to ask questions. Most questioners, some of whom became emotional, were either Day School parents or LJCC pre-school parents. Most in attendance praised the efforts of both law enforcement and the LJCC staff in addressing their concerns.
Among those on the panel were Alabama Congressman Gary Palmer and Birmingham Mayor William Bell. Jefferson County Commissioner David Carrington was in attendance to show support as well. The Birmingham Jewish Federation thanks these elected officials for understanding the significance of the anti-Semitic threats.
The below link provides comprehensive coverage of the town hall meeting from CBS 42 news.
DIVERSITY, WELCOMING SPIRIT
Earlier in the day, Betzy and BJF Executive Director Richard Friedman spoke to Birmingham’s Community Affairs Committee about this wave of anti-Semitism. They noted that two-thirds of the LJCC’s membership is not Jewish and that the LJCC historically is a community center where diversity and a welcoming spirit have flourished. Thus, they pointed out, that these bomb threats not only are an attack on the Jewish community, but they also are an attack on the broader Birmingham community.
At both the morning presentation and town hall meeting, Richard said that additional security needs are being reviewed and prioritized and that he anticipates that a fundraising campaign will be initiated shortly to raise money to funds these enhancements. Long-time Jewish community philanthropist and volunteer leader Donald Hess is coordinating an effort to assess security needs pertaining to all of our Jewish agencies and congregations and explore the best approach to raising funds.
“The irony is that these attacks against our Montclair Road Jewish Community Campus have made us stronger as a Jewish community and have drawn unprecedented support, concern and solidarity from the broader Birmingham community,” Richard explained Monday night in a media interview.