The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, applauds the release of $25 million in homeland security funds by Congress this week to protect at-risk nonprofits across America. The release of these funds was the result of the combined efforts of the Union in partnership with a coalition of non-profit groups led by United Jewish Communities. The effort in Congress was spearheaded by Senators Arlen Specter and Barbara Mikulski.
As with similar funding last year, this $25 million in federal funding would go to the Homeland Security Department’s Office for State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness to distribute to high-risk non-profit organizations. The non-profits will use the federal funds for much needed physical security enhancements within and around their facilities. The money, from the FY 2006 budget, had not been released due to ambiguities in earlier legislative language. Negotiators on the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives conference committees previously met to work out the differences between the two versions of the bill and agreed this week to finally release the funds.
Last year, the $25 million was distributed to nonprofits across 18 states with much of it used to install necessary security barriers and surveillance cameras; a significant portion of the funds were granted to synagogues — a class of entities which have been attacked overseas and threatened within the United States.
Nathan J. Diament, public policy director for the UOJCA stated:
Congress has appropriated crucial resources to help the Jewish community adapt to the current security challenges confronting our institutions, including synagogues and schools alongside other non-profits. The funds will make our community more secure. We are very grateful to Senator Specter and Mikulski, as well as Senators Thad Cochran and Judd Gregg and Representatives Eric Cantor and Harold Rogers.