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Orthodox Union Welcomes Bipartisan Agreement in Congress to Increase Funding for Security at Synagogues, Other Houses of Worship, Day Schools, Nonprofits in 2020; Spending Package Boosts Program to Record $90 Million

Posted on December 16, 2019 In Press Releases

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Today, the Orthodox Union, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, welcomed an agreement by Congressional  leaders to increase to $90 million the funding for the federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) that will help keep America’s synagogues,  other houses of worship, parochial day schools, and nonprofits such as hospitals, libraries and museums safe against terror attacks. The new funding level, which comes as part of Congress’s Appropriations package, represents a 50 percent increase compared to last year’s $60 million funding. The funding was approved as part of a larger appropriations package,

The Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, which helped create the NSGP in 2005 (in partnership with the Jewish Federations of North America and other organizations) has been advocating for the past year to increase funding for the grant program from the current $60 million to $90 million.

The allocation was approved by both chambers of Congress and was signed by President Trump on Friday, Dec. 20.

Leaders whose support was key to attaining the $90 million funding are Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Grace Meng  (D-N.Y.);  and Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.).

Congress’s decision to budget the landmark amount for the NSGP comes in the wake of recent attacks on or near Jewish synagogues and schools including:

  • Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Congregation, in which 11 people were killed during Shabbat services in Oct. 2018;
  • California’s Chabad of Poway in April, in which one person was killed during Passover in April 2019;
  • Last week’s shooting in Jersey City that killed four people–including two Jews and a police officer—during an anti-Semitic rampage that ended in a kosher grocery store attached to a yeshiva, and across the street from a Catholic day school.

The NSGP provides grants of up to $100,000 apiece to nonprofits 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. Since 2005, Congress has allocated $329 million for the grants, which are administered by the Department of Homeland Security.

Of the $90 million, $50 million is to be designated for nonprofits in major urban areas traditionally considered at high risk of terror attacks, and $40 million is to be apportioned to nonprofits in other geographic regions.

Said Orthodox Union President Mark (Moishe) Bane:
“The many attacks on our Jewish communal institutions highlight the tremendous need for additional measures to keep our community safe. We have a responsibility to protect people whether at prayer, at school and in other potentially vulnerable places. The Orthodox Union is committed doing everything we can to keep our community safe.”

Said Nathan Diament, executive director for the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center (and a member of the Department of Homeland Security’s Subcommittee for the Prevention of Targeted Violence Against Faith-Based Communities):
“We are very grateful to Reps. Nita Lowey, Bill Pascrell, Peter King  and Grace Meng, and Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, Rob Portman, Gary Peters, Charles Schumer, Chris Van Hollen and Roy Blunt, along with so many other members of Congress for the their dedication and support of this landmark funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Their hard work and the support of so many Members of Congress provides a critical boost to our ability to make our Jewish communities safer.  There is more to be done to combat anti-Semitism and keep our synagogues and schools safe and secure, but this dramatic increase in federal support is a large step forward.”