Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union)–the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization—condemns the arson attack upon a Jewish center and synagogue at the University of Delaware Tuesday night and calls for greater federal security funding to protect Jewish institutions against anti-Semitic attacks.
While no one was hurt in the blaze, which was set in a building that houses the university’s Chabad Center for Jewish Life, it caused $75,000 in damage. Investigators said the fire was intentionally set, and a criminal investigation is underway.
The attack underscores the importance of the federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), a federal funding program the OU Advocacy Center helped create in 2005. To date it has delivered a total of $419 million to synagogues, Jewish day schools and other houses of worship and nonprofits at risk of terror attacks to make their facilities more secure. At the urging of the OU Advocacy Center, Congress increased the 2020 federal allocation for the NSGP by 50 percent, to $90 million, and the OU Advocacy Center has been working with top lawmakers to quadruple that amount for 2021.
Said Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s executive director for public policy:
“The attack at the University of Delaware is a stark and painful reminder that anti-Semitism is alive and well in the United States in 2020. Even in the midst of a pandemic, there is no time to pause our vigilance against such heinous acts of anti-Semitism. We must continue to do everything we can to protect the Jewish community against those who seek to do us harm.”
Said Orthodox Union President Mark “Moishe” Bane:
“We are horrified by what occurred last night at yet another Jewish institution—one that specifically serves to connect young students to Judaism. We have a responsibility to keep our community and others safe, and we call on Congress to act swiftly to increase funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to $360 million so that our religious institutions may be made safer for all.”
The Nonprofit Security Grant Program, administered by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, provides grants of up to $100,000 apiece to synagogues and other houses of worship as well as parochial day schools and other nonprofits at risk of terror attacks. The funds may be used for security improvements to buildings and to hire security guards.