Jewish Organizations Raise Concerns Over Cuts to Program Funding Security at Nonprofits

They called for Congress to restore $30.5 million in funding to the grant program.

Jewish organizations have expressed alarm over cuts to a grant program that provides funds for security measures at places of worship amid a rise in antisemitism in the United States.

In a recently passed spending bill, Congress cut $30.5 million from the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), marking a 10 percent decrease.

The grant program, started by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support the physical protection of houses of worship, has been used by synagogues and other Jewish nonprofits at least since the 2018 shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh—the deadliest attack ever on an American Jewish community.

The program, Jewish organizations say, has become even more crucial in the aftermath of Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023—the deadliest single-day massacre of Jews since the Holocaust—that has seen the number of antisemitic incidents spike in the United States.

“Guards are the best overall security investment because guards act as a real deterrent to criminals and terrorists,” Stephen Bryen, author of the book “Security for Holy Places,” told The Epoch Times.

“Grants typically are awarded on an annual basis, so it is important for religious organizations to apply for follow-up money,” he continued. “If the amount of funds is cut, then obviously many won’t be able to pay for guards and other security improvements.”

While there were across-the-board cuts in grant programs in the government funding legislation enacted late last month, Jewish organizations still expressed their dismay over the cut in funding for the NSGP.

“It is unacceptable that as threats to our communities increase, Congress is decreasing potentially lifesaving funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program. With an unprecedented spike in antisemitism and threats to Jewish institutions in the wake of the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel, it’s disheartening to see Congress fail to even maintain the status quo,” said ADL National Director and CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt in a statement to The Epoch Times.

The American Jewish Committee, The Jewish Federations of North America, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the Anti-Defamation League, and two other organizations released a joint statement lamenting the decreased funding.

“These funds have provided critical support for security enhancements such as surveillance cameras, fortified entry points, and emergency preparedness training,” they said. “In the last two years alone, at-risk Jewish institutions and facilities have seen a substantial increase in funding, directly contributing to the safety and resilience of communities across the country.”

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Last August, an armed suspect entered Margolin Hebrew Academy in Memphis and shot at the entrance to the school but could not get in through the doors, which were reinforced thanks to the NSGP. Cameras, equipped via funding from the program, got the license plate of the alleged shooter, leading to his apprehension.

The two other organizations that signed onto the joint statement were the Orthodox Union, which represents Orthodox Jews, and the Secure Community Network, which works with law enforcement to protect synagogues and other Jewish institutions and helps those institutions secure funding from the NSGP.

Nonprofits requested more than $600 million last year even though the NSGP only had $305 million for that fiscal year, SCN communications manager Ezra Weinberger told The Epoch Times.

“With applications only expected to increase, there is no doubt the cut this year will lead to even more eligible and deserving applicants not receiving the support they need,” he said.

Nathan Diament, Executive Director of Public Policy at the Orthodox Union, told The Epoch Times that the cut especially hurts nonprofits that do not have big donors.

“Those with lesser means to make up the difference with private funds will be forced to reduce their security measures,” he said.

Despite the cut, Jewish organizations have expressed hope that the House will pass the Senate-passed national security supplemental that—in addition to assistance for Israel, Ukraine, Gaza, and the Indo-Pacific—includes $400 million for the NSGP.

Many, if not most, House Republicans are opposed to the package due to the lack of border security measures.

While “there have been many criticisms of the government program, particularly the length of time it takes to actually get funds once an application is accepted [at least a year or more],” said Mr. Bryen, “it is the best that is available.”

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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