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August 5, 2014 By:
Local Jewish Facilities Receive Federal Security Grants
Nine Jewish institutions in the Philadelphia area and two in South Jersey have received funding for security upgrades from the Department of Homeland Security.
The federal agency announced late last month that it was allocating $12 million to Jewish institutions around the country. The figure represents 94 percent of the total $13 million it distributed to nonprofits across the country.
The grants were based on applications that were assessed by local and federal law enforcement officials.
“The good news is that Philadelphia was able to get more money probably because of the risk assessment,” said Robin Schatz, director of government affairs at Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. “The bad news is the risk assessment.”
The allocation made sense particularly in light of an intensification of threats on Jewish community targets in the United States and overseas, said William Daroff, director of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Washington, D.C., office.
“In the current environment, there are threats to nonprofits and to Jewish institutions,” Daroff said, noting a swell of attacks on Jewish institutions in Europe in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war in the Gaza Strip.
“We see it clearly in Europe, but we also see it here in the United States in Kansas City, in Seattle and numerous occasions that are not made public or do not come to fruition,” said Daroff, referring to attacks on Jewish community centers in Kansas City and Seattle in recent years.
Daroff and other officials declined to provide the names of the local grant recipients because they said that could make them more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. Two years ago, officials released the names of the beneficiaries, which included four local institutions.
The Department of Homeland Security has disbursed $151 million in security grants since the program started in 2005, most of it to Jewish institutions. Daroff said the majority of the recipients applied for the maximum $75,000 grant — and received the amount they applied for.
The Jewish Federations of North America, the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel of America have been leading the lobbying for the program.
JTA contributed to this report.