Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations Joins Senators in Pressing For Homeland Security Funds to Aid Synagogues and Other Nonprofits at Risk of Terrorist Attacks; Tragic Attacks in Seattle and Elsewhere Highlight Need
Today, in a Capitol Hill press conference, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (UOJCA), the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, joined with Senators Arlen Specter, Barbara Mikulski, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell to urge the Department of Homeland Security to quickly disburse $25 million in federal grant funds appropriated last year for grants to non-profits at high risk of terrorist attacks to improve their physical security, and also to press Congress to appropriate an additional $25 million to continue the program next year.
The 2007 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which passed the Senate last month, contained an amendment that directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to disburse these funds within the next three months. That amendment was a result of the leadership of Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) with whom the UOJCA worked in partnership with a coalition of non-profit groups led by United Jewish Communities (UJC). Also last month, DHS Secretary Chertoff announced he would be directing DHS to expedite the release of this year’s funds.
The UOJCA — along with UJC and our coalition — will continue to work with Senators Specter and Mikulski as well as Senator Judd Gregg, the Appropriations subcommittee chairman, to secure funds to continue this critical program for the 2007 fiscal year as the legislation is finalized in a House-Senate conference committee.
Nathan Diament, director of public policy for the Union stated:
“The Orthodox Jewish community greatly appreciates the leadership of Senators Specter and Mikulski, and the support of Senators Murray, Cantwell and others in creating this program in 2005 for the security of our community’s institutions among many non-profit entities which require aid for security. We are also proud of the role the UOJCA has played along with the UJC in leading the non-profit coalition’s effort.
“The tragic and disturbing attack on the Jewish Federation in Seattle last Friday as well as the weekend attacks on synagogues in Florida and Sydney, Australia underscores the need for this program.
“Obviously, $25 million of federal funds will not alone solve the problem or make all synagogues and nonprofit facilities invincible — but it’s an important and excellent start and a critical catalyst for further investments in security from local and private sources, and we appreciate Secretary Chertoff’s recent action. We look forward to securing the appropriation of funds for these grants for the 2007 fiscal year in the House-Senate conference committee and to final passage of this legislation.”