Owner says Amba being harassed by persistent anti-Semitic caller

An Oakland restaurant featuring Israeli cuisine has been bombarded by dozens of anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli and other threatening phone calls over the past month, according to its owner.

Jonathan Wornick said his restaurant, Amba, has received “maybe 50 calls” since early September, sometimes as many as four in one day.

“If one of my female employees answers, he says he’s going to come in and rape her, or kill [employees] or follow them home,” Wornick said. “And other things that are somewhat incoherent statements about the Jews and/or Israel.”

Wornick said he has contacted the Oakland Police Department but is mainly working with AT&T and its call-tracking system to “zero in on the phone number,” which shows up as blocked on caller ID. There are no leads or suspects, he said Oct. 3.

“When the calls come in, at this point we just hang up and don’t listen to them anymore,” Wornick said.

Wornick noted that there have been no incidents at the restaurant, and that he has not contacted the Anti-Defamation League or any other agencies about the phone calls, saying he doesn’t feel “particularly threatened at the moment.” He did say, however, that his four female employees are a bit skittish, and that all employees are on heightened alert for anything out of the ordinary.

Amba is a casual, vegetarian, kosher restaurant that serves Israeli food in Oakland’s Montclair district. It opened in December 2009 and has become a popular spot with people in the Jewish community. There  are 10 employees, with four or five working in the restaurant at any one time.

“We’ve never had a single issue happen at the restaurant — nothing physical, no graffiti, no protests. Nothing,” Wornick said. “This is probably one guy out there, and who knows why he is doing this.” — andy altman-ohr

Andy Altman-Ohr

Andy Altman-Ohr was J.’s managing editor and Hardly Strictly Bagels columnist until he retired in 2016 to travel and live abroad. He and his wife have a home base in Mexico, where he continues his dalliance with Jewish journalism.