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Pair of Rhode Island Jewish Student Organizations Receive Threatening Emails

An unidentified person emailed violent threats to Brown-RISD Hillel leaders at 3 a.m. this morning, according to Rabbi Josh Bolton, the executive director of the center, and a community-wide email sent by the Department of Public Safety. Police searches found “no imminent threat” within Hillel’s Weiner Center building, which is now open for use. 

According to Bolton, he and Molly Goldmeier — assistant director of Hillel — both received “specific violent threats” to them, their families and the Weiner Center via email early Sunday. Bolton declined to comment on the type of threats received. Rodney Chatman, the vice president for public safety and emergency management, confirmed in the DPS email that there is “no evidence of any on-site threat” after officers conducted a safety assessment of the Weiner Center.

The threats are currently under investigation by “a collaboration of local, state and federal authorities,” Bolton told The Herald. 

The leaders discovered the emails at 7:30 a.m. and immediately informed the Providence Police Department, Bolton said.

Providence Police responded in person at the Weiner Center at 9 a.m. and contacted DPS to assist. Providence Police and DPS also notified the Rhode Island State Fusion Center, a network for collaboration between federal, state and local agencies in response to threats. 

Bolton wrote that Hillel is currently updating its safety and security plans. “Special security detail is now in place at our building and will remain in place over the coming days,” he wrote.

In an email to the Hillel community, Bolton confirmed that the Weiner Center will remain open and will proceed with regularly scheduled activities. 

President Christina Paxson P’19 P’MD’20 and RISD President Crystal Williams addressed the threats in an email sent to Brown and RISD students Sunday afternoon. “Our fervent hope is that, in this difficult time, each of us in the Brown and RISD communities renews our commitment to eschew all forms of hatred and work toward mutual understanding,” they wrote.

Paxson and Williams confirmed that the Providence Police are continuing to investigate the violent threats in collaboration with Brown and RISD’s departments of public safety. According to the email, security plans are in place at the Weiner Center and for all individuals threatened.

“It was absolutely gut-wrenching to see that the only safe space that is left for us Jewish students on campus was threatened,” said Sonya Rashkovan ’27, who frequently attends Hillel, in an interview with The Herald. Rashkovan found out about the violent threats upon receiving the DPS email.

Daniel Solomon ’26, who learned about the threats from friends, believes they indicate the “grim, unfortunate reality of what it’s like to be a Jew in America,” he said in an interview with The Herald.

“You cannot go into a synagogue or a Jewish institution anymore without there being police cars out front and security guards,” Solomon said.

The violent threats made against Hillel will “definitely have a mark on how we feel, not because of Hillel specifically, but because of the environment on campus,” Rashkovan said.

Rashkovan said that since the Oct. 7 attacks against Israel by Hamas, many Jewish students have not felt safe on campus. “I hope that, after this, people will start to take our calls more seriously,” Rashkovan said.