Sen. Schumer and other Leaders Ask Biden to Double Nonprofit Security Grant Program
By Yehudit Garmaise
While many Jews were briefly shocked two weeks ago to hear as soon as Shabbos was over that a Muslim terrorist had taken four hostages during that morning at Congregation Beth Yisroel in Colleyville, Texas, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Jewish and Christian leaders took action yesterday when they wrote a letter to President Joe Biden, asking him to double to $360 million its Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) to provide more security against religious hate crimes.
The NSGP, which currently has $180 million allocated to it, is administered by the US Department of Homeland Security, and it provides houses of worship, private schools, and other nonprofits with grants of up to $150,000 to provide security improvements to buildings, security training, and security guards to defend against acts of terror.
Security training, pointed out District Leader David Schwartz, who spoke today at the UJA Federation in Manhattan, is what could prove most crucial to saving the lives of many worshippers.
“As the rabbi in Texas said, ‘if not for the government training, we wouldn’t have made it out alive,” Schwartz said, recounting the words of Charlie Cytron-Walker, who waited for the right moment, during the 11-hour standoff with 44-year old Malik Faisal Akram, to throw a chair at the assailant: an act of bravery that gave the rabbi and two other hostages time to run outside and escape.
"Over the years, my congregation and I have participated in multiple security courses from the Colleyville Police Department, the FBI, the Anti-Defamation League, and Secure Community Network," Cytron-Walker said in a written statement. "We are alive today because of that education."
“Along with praise to Hashem, sometimes we need the effort from people in government, so thank you Sen. Schumer,” Schwartz said. “A miracle happened, and no one was killed, but a lot of people and the media went right back to normal.
“Sen. Schumer, however, thought, ‘If anti-Semitism is on the rise, what more can I do?’”
“A house of worship used to be a place of prayer and reflection: not a place of fear,” said Yeruchim Silber,the director of New York government relations at Agudath Israel. “We really appreciate this extra allocation. Sen. Schumer, you are the ‘Shomer Yisroel’ by pushing to double the NSGP allocation, which will be able to help so many houses of worship across the country to be secure, so people should feel their prayers and not fear, when they are inside houses of worships.”
“The Talmud says, one who saves one life, saves an entire world,” Schwartz said. “With this increase in funding, many lives will be saved, and many worlds will be saved.”