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Orthodox Union Joins Interfaith Coalition in Calling on Congress to Dramatically Increase Funding to Protect Houses of Worship, Religious Day Schools and Other Nonprofits

Posted on October 6, 2020 In Press Releases

Letter Urges Quadrupling Nonprofit Security Grant Program to $360 Million for 2021

Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union)–the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization—joined with interfaith organizations nationwide 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 nonprofit entities can bolster building security against the threat of terror 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 program’s $90 million allocation for the past year left the majority of applicants empty-handed. The OU Advocacy spearheaded the creation of the NSGP, along with the Jewish Federations of North America and other groups in 2005, and has for the past year been working with top legislators to quadruple funding for the program.

The letter states: “We believe that all people ought to be free from fear when gathering for religious worship and service. The NSGP provides funding for at-risk nonprofits from urban settings, to suburban neighborhoods, to rural communities, including houses of worship, religious schools, community centers, and other charities, to improve security measures to their buildings. There is certainly a need for these grants. Our sacred spaces have been desecrated, and our faithful murdered.”

Other faith groups joining the letter include the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Association of Evangelicals, U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations, Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty, The Jewish Federations of North America, National Council of Churches in Christ in the USA, North American Division of the Seventh-day Adventists, Sikh Council for Interfaith Relations, Agudath Israel of America and The Episcopal Church.

Background & Resources:

  • Interfaith Coalition Letter
  • OU Advocacy’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program Resource Page
    To date, the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) has provided 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.
    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 to make buildings more secure and hire security guards.
  • Oct. 27, 2020: Second Anniversary of attack on Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue
    The Jewish community has been a particular target of attacks on houses of worship and visibly Jewish people. On Oct. 27, 2018, a gunman killed 11 worshippers as they prayed during the Sabbath at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. OU/RCA statement on Tree of Life attack
  • OU Executive Director Nathan Diament’s Testimony to Congress on anti-Semitism
    On January 15, 2020, OU Executive Director for Public Policy Nathan Diament testified before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Counterterrorism about violence against Orthodox Jews in the United States and the need to increase funding for the NSGP to $360 million. Read and watch here