For the American Jewish community, 2019 was a year of enormous trauma. The second fatal attack ever on synagogue worshippers took place in Poway, California – making the prior one at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life no longer an isolated event. Assaults upon Jews walking the streets of Brooklyn increased in violence and frequency. Patrons of a kosher grocery store in Jersey City were murdered. And the year ended with last Saturday night’s attack by a machete-wielding terrorist invading the home of a rabbi in Monsey during a Chanukah celebration.
Federal, state, and local governments have responded to these events in varying degrees. But we are now in the midst of what can only be called a crisis, and government leaders at all levels must do much more to protect Americans in their places of worship and their communities. We need our elected officials to move beyond statements of support and sympathy and take concrete action that will eliminate the ever-increasing threat to our community. There are several critical measures that Congress can and must enact as soon as possible to protect Jewish institutions as well as America’s churches, mosques, and temples, which also endured violent attacks in recent months.
First, we must dramatically increase the funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program administered by the Department of Homeland Security. Most synagogues and churches in the U.S. do not have the resources to install adequate security measures or hire security guards. Our organization and a coalition of faith community partners worked with bipartisan leaders to create the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) more than a decade ago.
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The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.