Pennsylvania General Assembly defunds security support set in place after Tree of Life Synagogue killings
PHILADELPHIA – The Union of Orthodox Congregations of America (OU) and Pennsylvanian Jewish community leaders expressed disappointment in a decision by the Pennsylvania General Assembly to defund security support for at-risk groups such as synagogues and JCCs.
The five-year directive had been put in place following the attack on the Tree of Life/ Simcha L’Or Synagogue in Pittsburgh in October of 2018. A non-profit grant program was due to run through 2024, but now will be curtailed.
The OU and many of its coalition partners expressed dismay at the lawmakers defunding a program intended to protect individuals and groups from hate crimes, especially in a year that has seen a significant rise in anti-Semitic activity. They are actively encouraging individuals to contact stage legislators to ring in their displeasure with the decision.
According to public records, a little over $10 million had been awarded to 243 nonprofit organizations who, as required by regulation, “principally serve individuals, groups or institutions that are included within a bias motivation category for single bias hate crime incidents as identified by the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics publication.”
According to a statement from the OU: “Churches, mosques, synagogues and at-risk nonprofits of all types have applied for this competitive grant and been awarded at levels from $25,000 to $150,000, to be used for an array of security enhancements for the nonprofit’s facility.”
OU executive vice president Rabbi Moshe Hauer said despite the measure that Jews will remain strong and committed to their faith and practice.
“It is frightening to hear our friends and neighbors call with reports of broken windows at yeshivas, vandalism of synagogues and physical assault at kosher restaurants,” he said. “We have asked our lawmakers to confront this hate in tangible ways and remain hopeful that resources will be made available to keep families safe.”