Park Side East Synagogue Receives Letter Threatening to ‘Detonate’ Building

| June 3, 2010

UPPER EAST SIDE — NYPD officers did a full building security sweep of Park East Synagogue, including its nursery through eighth-grade school, after the synagogue received a threatening letter in the mail on Wednesday afternoon, officials said.

The typed, unsigned letter, which directly threatened the synagogue and its congregants at East 67th Street, arrived at Park East with the day’s mail about 3 p.m., according to Joel Baum, executive director of the synagogue and Park East Day School.

A police spokesman said that the letter threatened to “detonate” the synagogue. Baum said he did not want to reveal the exact details of the letter’s contents.

“My initial reaction upon reading the letter was to pass it on to the authorities,” Baum said. “We’re grateful for their immediate response.”
Upper East Side Synagogue Receives Threat in MailPark East Synagogue received a threatening letter on Wednesday afternoon. (DNAinfo/Jennifer Glickel)

The modern Orthodox temple is situated just two doors down from the NYPD’s 19th Precinct, so Baum handed the threatening letter to a temple security guard, who walked it down the block to the police station.

The NYPD’s Emergency Services Unit arrived on the scene to perform the walk-through of the building at 3:25 p.m., which took about an hour, according to Baum. ESU determined that there was no physical threat to the synagogue.

The incident occurred about 10 minutes before the end of the Park East Day School’s classes. Not wanting to alarm students and parents, the school called a fire drill to immediately evacuate the 350 students and send them home early.

“Nothing like this has happened in the six years that I’ve been here,” Baum said. “We’re just happy that it turned out to be a false alarm.”

Neighborhood resident and parent Jeff Greaves, 46, was surprised and dismayed to hear about the letter.

“It’s a shame that someone would send a letter to a synagogue,” Greaves said. “And it’s a pretty stupid thing to do considering they’re right next to the police station.”

Others weren’t surprised that the incident occurred.

“It’s not a good thing to have happen, of course, but it doesn’t surprise me really,” said Melissa, 35, a therapist who works nearby and declined to give her last name.

“There are so many crazy people in this city and world that things like this unfortunately become almost commonplace,” she added.

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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security

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