- Associated Press - Friday, March 3, 2017

TENAFLY, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and members of the state’s congressional delegation on Friday told members of a Jewish community center that’s been the recent target of threats that they will redouble their efforts to ensure safety and will subdue what one characterized as “some coward in the darkness on a telephone.”

Christie promised increased patrols at religious facilities, and said the state attorney general will offer a $10,000 reward for tips that lead to convictions.

The Republican governor was joined at the Kaplen Jewish Community Center on the Palisades by Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker and other officials. The center was the target of a bomb threat Monday, the third it has fielded since January.

Jewish community centers and schools in at least a dozen states also were targets of bomb threats this past week, the fifth wave since January. A Missouri man was charged Friday in at least eight of the bomb threats.

“We’ve learned recently that anti-Semitism is not dead but dormant, and easily re-awakened,” Menendez said.

New Jersey’s Muslim communities also have been targeted. This week, a mosque in Jersey City received a letter postmarked from Sheffield, England, that said, “you and your filthy kind will be beheaded.”

Jordan Shenker, the center’s CEO, said after a rally that he must strike a balance between obvious security precautions such as armed guards and security cameras aimed at “making people feel safe and secure” with less visible measures that may be equally, or even more, effective.

Above all, he said, panic or second thoughts don’t enter the equation when a threat is received.

“We don’t have time to think about how we are feeling, whether we’re frustrated or we’re angry,” he said. “We have a sacred obligation to the parents who have trusted us to send their children here.”

Christie praised New Jersey as one of the nation’s most diverse states demographically, and said that while anti-bias laws can be effective, it is everyone’s responsibility to be vigilant and to act, whether upon hearing a hateful comment in a store checkout line or witnessing discriminatory behavior at a kids’ soccer game.

“It’s not OK to stand by and wait for someone else to do something,” he said.

Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell noted that anti-Semitic crimes are not new to Bergen County. He mentioned the firebombings of several Jewish temples in 2012, including one that ignited a fire in a rabbi’s residence where the man, his wife, children and parents were sleeping.

Booker said those who use the anonymity of a phone to terrorize others must be met “with a chorus of conviction and love,” then added that “nothing should divide us when it comes to protecting and standing up for our fellow Americans.”

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