Bomb scare shakes S.F. Brandeis Hillel

The first threat was called in to the school in the late afternoon of April 18, and a second came the following morning. Since Thursday and Friday of last week were parent-teacher conference days at Brandeis, only a limited number of students were on campus when the threats were received. Those who were there on April 18 were evacuated, including kids in the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco's Early Childhood program, which operates out of a module on the campus. The JCC program did not meet last Friday.

After a thorough investigation by the San Francisco fire and police departments on both days, it was determined that "the campus was never penetrated" and "neither the children nor staff were at risk at any point," according to Rabbi Henry Shreibman, Brandeis' head of schools.

Local law enforcement agencies are still investigating the incident.

The San Rafael campus of Brandeis Hillel was not affected by the threats.

Although the bomb threats appear to be hoaxes, this type of "hateful activity" is upsetting to parents and families, said Stillman.

"It's one thing to wreak emotional havoc with adults, but this affects children. It would only take one time for it to be a true disaster that could ruin people's lives."

Additionally, many families of students at the day school, like the Stillmans, are members of Temple Beth Israel-Judea, located next door. Gasoline cans and other flammable materials were discovered on the roof of the synagogue last month.

These "hostile, anti-Jewish" incidents on Brotherhood Way, where the school and synagogue are located, as well as other incidents throughout the Bay Area are discouraging for Stillman, who has been involved with the Central Pacific region of the ADL for the last nine years.

Ultimately, however, such incidents have not dissuaded the mother of two or her husband, Jeff, from their commitment to giving their children a solid Jewish education. "We're not going to stop living our lives as we desire, as Jewish people, because others are trying to make us afraid and create a hostile environment."

Stillman was on the San Francisco campus with both her sons — her younger one is 4 and attends the JCC program — on Thursday and Friday. She discussed the incident with the older child, she said, because he expressed concern when he saw "police running around with dogs, and teachers upset, herding parents out of there."

By Monday, Brandeis and the JCC program were back to their regular schedules. Shreibman said he was planning to talk with students about the incident in "an age-appropriate manner" during the week.

When she dropped off her kids Monday morning, Stillman said she felt confident that between the work of Shreibman and the police, everything was being done "to make sure the school is safe and under control."

Still, she was hoping to organize some sort of briefing for parents. "Things like this bring us together as a community," she said. "Sometimes it takes a bad thing to make a community stronger."