UJA-Federation of NY Creates $250,000 Fund to Provide Security Enhancements and Training to Brooklyn’s Small Shuls
By Yehudit Garmaise
The United Jewish Appeal (UJA)-Federation of New York today announced it created a $250,000 fund with the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) to provide security enhancement packages to at least 50 shtieblach in Brooklyn.
To qualify for the program, which the Community Security Initiative (CSI) will run, the shuls must have a capacity of fewer than 200 people and little or no staff.
The UJA said that most of the approximately 250 small synagogues in Brooklyn do not have basic security measures in place, however, the NYPD hate crimes unit has already reported 22 hate crimes against Jewish people so far this year, compared to the eight that took place last January.
The new security enhancement packages will include the installation of new doors, locks, and video cameras. In addition, staff members and congregants who choose to participate will receive training to fight off active shooters and other security risks.
Small synagogues are often left without security funding, notably because they are often lack the staff to manage the arduous grant application process that is required by the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, however this new fund will bridge this funding gap, the UJA said.
One member of the many Jewish security teams pointed out that “the doors were wide open” in the many shuls that have had terrorists enter and harm or try to harm congregants worldwide.
“It is up to us to protect ourselves as a community,” said a community service member who emphasizes that shuls must keep their doors locked or guarded. “We have to use our awareness and our intelligence to protect ourselves.”
"Unfortunately, criminals who hate do not distinguish between small or large houses of worship,” said Assembly Member Simcha Eichenstein. “They will seize any opportunity to wreak havoc, no matter the size or type of synagogue. I strongly encourage all our shuls to take advantage of this vital program.”
Shuls seeking funding and training can apply online at jcrcny.org/smallshuls. The CSI will review and process applications and begin to schedule security consultants' visits and provide training to prevent active threats.