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DHS grants boost safety at 27 NJ Jewish sites
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DHS grants boost safety at 27 NJ Jewish sites

State ranks third in vulnerability after NY, Chicago

Robert Goldberg, senior director of legislative affairs at the Jewish Federations of North America, says the Department of Homeland Security “considers Jewish institutions as those at highest risk.”
Robert Goldberg, senior director of legislative affairs at the Jewish Federations of North America, says the Department of Homeland Security “considers Jewish institutions as those at highest risk.”

Jewish institutions in New Jersey are among the top recipients of new security grants from the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Twenty-seven hospitals, museums, schools, and houses of worship in New Jersey will receive $1.864 million in DHS funds, trailing only New York and Chicago in the number of institutions considered vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Twenty of the 27 recipients, whose names were not released, are Jewish institutions. The grants were announced Aug. 23.

“Temples, congregations, Chabads, and day schools are the primary recipients,” said Robert Goldberg, senior director of legislative affairs at the Jewish Federations of North America.

A JFNA spokesperson declined to identify the individual grant recipients for “security reasons.”

She noted that monies will be spent “for things like physical security enhancements intended to deter and detect terrorists and extremists, such as blast-proof windows, reinforced doors, locks, gates, and fences, video surveillance, and other equipment and enhancements, as well as personnel training.”

Goldberg, chief Washington, DC, lobbyist for the federations, told NJ Jewish News in an Aug. 24 phone interview that nationally, Jewish institutions received 217 of the 267 grants DHS awarded for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

“It has been consistent since the establishment of the program during the six grant cycles since the program began, the Jewish community has received on average 60 to 80 percent of the total allotments. It is determined solely on a risk-based assessment by the Department of Homeland Security,” Goldberg said.

“Within the nonprofit arena, the DHS considers Jewish institutions as those at highest risk. Al Qaida and other groups had at their foundation Jewish civilian targets as within the scope of their acceptable targets in the United States and the West,” he explained.

According to the lobbyist, the majority of the 50 awards for non-Jewish institutions went to hospitals, followed by schools and educational facilities. Mosques and other Islamic institutions as well as Catholic cathedrals and Lutheran service agencies have also been recipients, he said.

“Historically, houses of worship and community centers, followed by schools, have been considered high-value targets. But the program has covered museums, Jewish family service institutions, community centers, and Hillels,” said Goldberg.

JFNA is already drafting proposals for the 2012-13 fiscal year, mindful of the spending cutbacks imposed after the brutal congressional battle over raising the federal debt ceiling.

“We know that everything is under the microscope, but we also know that from the administration’s perspective, they are looking for cuts up to 10 percent by fiscal year 2013,” said Goldberg.

“They want a real assessment of what is working and what is not working in order to reduce their annual budgets,” he said. “We at JFNA are going to be in partnership with our state and local professionals, who are going to make sure that anything from housing for the elderly, funding for the Older Americans Act, Medicaid reimbursements, to charitable tax incentives remain intact and effective and a priority of the federal government as they look under every rock to find savings.”

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