By: Shlomit Ebbin and Sruli Fruchter  | 

After Phone Call Threat Made to YU, NYPD Concludes Campus Is Safe

After a phone call threat was made against Wilf Campus on Monday, Jan. 31, the New York Police Department (NYPD) investigated the matter and concluded that there was no danger. It is currently unclear if the threat was antisemitic in nature.

Students were notified of heightened police activity on Wilf Campus at 8:40 a.m. on Jan. 31 via a YU update. The update reported that the NYPD was investigating “a unsubstantiated phone call threat.” Students were advised to “stay indoors, if possible, or use extra caution if outside” and to report any suspicious activity to security. At 9:52 a.m., students were updated that YU received the “ALL CLEAR” from the NYPD. 

Earlier today, six historically Black colleges and universities received bomb threats. Some of the institutions received the all-clear from law enforcement, while others closed for the remainder of the day.

YU is distinguished as an essentially Jewish university, and this incident, while still unclear as to the perpetrator’s motivation, comes at a time when antisemitism is rising across the U.S. 

A report by the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency found that 2021 was the worst year for antisemitism in the past decade, the Times of Israel reported. Two weeks ago on Shabbat, Jan. 15, a gunman held four people hostage in a Texas shul for 11 hours in what the FBI director called an act of antisemitism.

In the past few years, YU itself has faced different incidents involving antisemitism. In October 2018, the NYPD investigated swastikas being scrawled and etched on different YU-owned buildings in Washington Heights. One year later, before the fall semester began in 2019, The Commentator reported that a neo-Nazi forum had posted hundreds of photos of YU students, staff and alumni. The following spring, antisemitic trolls “Zoombombed” President Ari Berman’s Zoom call with the YU community.

Police activity had begun before 8 a.m., with numerous police cars outside YU’s Marsha Stern Talmudical Academy (MTA) high school and Morgenstern Residence Hall. Rabbi Joshua Kahn, head of school at MTA, emailed students and parents regarding the security updates. Similar to the message from YU’s Security Department, he urged students to report anything suspicious and stay indoors until the investigation was completed; he also emailed out once the NYPD declared campus “all clear.”

As of publication, the university has not released any statements aside from the security updates, and the YU Security Department did not respond to The Commentator’s inquiries. The NYPD was contacted just before publication and did not yet respond.

Photo Caption: Students were notified of heightened police activity on Wilf Campus at 8:40 a.m.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons