Bill Would Stiffen Penalty For Threats Against Faith Facilities

May 18, 2017

Mike Goldstein and Jacob Toporek urge lawmakers to approve the bill.

Creating a false public alarm in New Jersey could mean decades behind bars if a bill advanced by an Assembly committee becomes law.

Assemblyman Gordon Johnson says his bill is a response to the string of bomb threats aimed at Jewish Community Centers, temples, and schools earlier this year.

'It's something that we as elected officials cannot accept and must do something in response. We can't allow anyone to be targeted because of their faith."

Mike Goldstein, the chief operating officer at the Jewish Community Center of Central New Jersey in Scotch Plains, says a bomb threat in January caused parents to worry about the safety of the children there.

"As a reaction to the overwhelming concern created by this event we chose quickly to implement armed security at our center, and currently we are struggling to balance out budget with this new expense."

Jacob Toporek, the executive director of  the State Association of Jewish Federations, says 157 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in New Jersey last year with 24 so far this year.

"There just seems to be less inhibition these days to express your inner emotions and feelings toward people of color and people of faith."

The measure calls for up to 30 years in prison for making threats that are found to be part of bias intimidation.