New Allocation Provides 5-year Funding for Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which Orthodox Union Helped Create in 2005
Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (“Orthodox Union”) – the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization – applauded President Trump for signing into law legislation that provides an unprecedented $375 million for synagogues and other houses of worship and nonprofits at risk of terror attacks as part of the federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP).
President Trump signed the Securing Faith-Based and Nonprofit Organizations from Terrorism Act of 2019 (H.R. 2476, S. 1539) into law on Friday afternoon, January 24. The Chairman of the Orthodox Union’s Board of Directors, Mr. Howard Tzvi Friedman of Baltimore, attended the signing event. The new law authorizes $75 million annually, for each of the next five years, to fund the NSGP.
The newly enacted law was introduced in the House by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and in the Senate by Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.), members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
The bill’s passage follows a wave of violent attacks in December on Jews in Brooklyn and Monsey, N.Y., where five people were stabbed while celebrating Chanukah. In October 2018, 11 Jews were killed at the Tree of Life congregation in Pittsburgh—the deadliest such attack in the United States; six months later, a gunman killed a congregant at a synagogue in Poway, Calif.
Orthodox Union Executive Director for Public Policy Nathan Diament, who serves on the Homeland Security Department’s Subcommittee for the Prevention of Targeted Violence Against Faith-Based Communities, stated:
“We’re very grateful to President Trump for authorizing this funding to keep synagogues, churches and other houses of worship. Jews today are facing violence on a scale we have never witnessed before in America, and the perpetrators must be stopped. This legislation will protect not only Jews, but all people of faith.”
Orthodox Union President Moishe Bane stated:
“We applaud President Trump, Reps. Bennie Thompson and Peter King and Sens. Rob Portman and Gary Peters and the many other members of Congress who have supported this legislation and taken action to protect our shuls, schools, community centers and other institutions. In doing so, they have shown their understanding for taking immediate action to protect America’s faith communities.”
(The Orthodox Union Advocacy Center helped spearhead the legislation that created the Nonprofit Security Grant Program in 2005. Administered by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, it 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 can be used for security improvements to buildings and to hire security guards.
At the urging of the Orthodox Union, Congress in December approved a 50 percent increase to the program, funding it at $90 million for 2020. That allocation brought total funding for the program—since 2005—to $419 million. On December 30, 2019, Sen. Chuck Schumer announced a proposal to increase the NSGP to $360 million at a press conference with the Orthodox Union’s Nathan Diament; Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin of Maryland joined that call at a press conference with Mr. Diament Jan. 13, 2020. With the Jan. 24 allocation, funding for the NSGP now stands at $749 million.)
Background on the Nonprofit Security Grant Program
Testimony by OU’s Nathan Diament on violence against Orthodox Jews, need to increase NSGP, during Jan. 15 hearing by House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence & Counterterrorism; watch Mr. Diament testify here; watch full panel here