The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in New Jersey issued a warning to all synagogues in the state on Thursday afternoon. In a tweet, the FBI announced that its Newark office had received “credible information of a broad threat” and advised the public to “take all security precautions” and “[s]tay alert.”
“We are taking a proactive measure with this warning while investigative processes are carried out,” the FBI Newark office wrote in a second tweet, published later that hour.
Rabbi Gil Steinlauf ’91, executive director for the Center for Jewish Life (CJL) and Jewish Chaplain at the University, addressed the threats in an email to the CJL community. The CJL operates as a partnership between the University and Hillel International, a foundation of Jewish campus organizations. At the University, it serves as one of the primary spaces for Jewish community gatherings and religious services.
“[W]e have contacted the Department of Public Safety on campus, and we will be working with them to ensure that the CJL will have an increased security presence this weekend,” Steinlauf wrote in the email. “[W]e are taking this matter seriously and will keep you informed if and when we receive new information.”
University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss confirmed that the Department of Public Safety “is aware of the F.B.I alert” and “is working with state and local authorities.”
“Patrols have been increased in the area of [the] CJL,” Hotchkiss wrote in a statement to The Daily Princetonian.
According to Steinlauf’s email, there is “no indication whatsoever” that the CJL will be a target or otherwise at heightened risk. However, the FBI has recommended that all New Jersey synagogues remain vigilant.
The CJL is not the only campus community affected by the FBI’s warning.
“An alert is naturally unsettling to the Jewish community,” said Rabbi Eitan Webb, co-director and co-founder of the University’s Chabad House in a written statement sent to the ‘Prince.’ “Together with the [U]niversity and law enforcement, we are taking all appropriate steps to maintain the safety of our students.”
Webb expressed gratitude to local and national law enforcement officers “for their commitment to our community” and noted that “[h]ate has no space here.”
Princeton’s Chabad House is overseen by Chabad on Campus International, an organization affiliated with the Chabad movement that aims to provide a “home away from home” for Jewish university students.
Law enforcement officials told ABC News that the threat originated online, was “not a bomb threat,” and “was not specific to any one synagogue.” The nature of the threat has not been disclosed to the public.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy confirmed that he has “been in touch” with the state’s Office of the Attorney General and Homeland Security, in addition to the FBI. “We are closely monitoring the situation and are working with local law enforcement to ensure that all houses of worship are protected,” he wrote in a tweet.
The CJL will hold regular sabbath services on Friday evening and Saturday morning. At Chabad House, regular programming will also continue as scheduled, according to Webb.
Tess Weinreich is an Assistant News Editor and features contributor to the ‘Prince.’ Please direct any corrections requests to email@example.com.