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October 7, 2020 9:19 am

Jewish Groups to Congress: Increase Security Funding for Religious Institutions

avatar by JNS.org

The US Capitol building exterior is seen at sunset as members of the Senate participate in the first day of the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in Washington, US, January 21, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Sarah Silbiger.

JNS.org – Three Jewish organizations joined almost a dozen faith groups calling on Congress to increase security funding for religious institutions.

The Orthodox Union, the Jewish Federations of North America and Agudath Israel of America joined eight other faith organizations to call on Congress to dramatically increase funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) so that synagogues, churches, mosques and other houses of worship, as well as religious schools and other at-risk non-profit entities, can bolster building security against the threat of attacks.

In its letter to congressional leaders, the interfaith coalition called for quadrupling the annual allocation for the NSGP to $360 million for fiscal year 2021 so that more institutions can be covered under the program.

The groups claimed that the program’s $90 million allocation for the past year left the majority of applicants empty-handed.

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The NSGP provides grants of up to $100,000 each to non-profits at risk of terrorist attacks so they may improve building security by acquiring and installing items ranging from fences, lighting and video surveillance to metal detectors and blast-resistant doors, locks and windows. Funding may also be used to train staff and pay for contracted security personnel.

Such monies have become critical for the Jewish community in the aftermath of the October 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 Jewish worshippers were killed; six months later, the April 27, 2019 shooting at Chabad of Poway in Southern California, where one woman was killed and three others injured; in addition to a string of antisemitic attacks last year in New York and New Jersey.

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