Bay Area Jewish Institutions Receive $825,000 in Federal Security Grants

Bay Area Jewish Institutions Receive $825,000 in Federal Security Grants

Multiple synagogues and Jewish institutions in Sacramento and the Bay Area have each received federal grants of as much as $150,000 for security.

Multiple synagogues and Jewish institutions in Sacramento and the Bay Area have each received federal grants of as much as $150,000 for security. The funds are allocated for training and security upgrades like alarms, blast-resistant doors and shatterproof glass.

The security grants are part of a Department of Homeland Security and FEMA program for potential targets of attack in large metropolitan areas. According to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, which administers the federal grants, the funding is available for any nonprofit considered to be “at high risk of terrorist attack” if its work or identity make it a target for hate. To apply for the federal grants, nonprofits have to assess their vulnerability and consider their access points, fences, traffic, lighting and intruder alarms.

The grants have become more relevant following last year’s deadly shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

“It has been a warning of what could come if we don’t protect institutions that might be targeted,” said Marc Levine, a member of the state Assembly for the North Bay.

During the last fiscal year, all seven security grants issued in the Bay Area went to Jewish institutions, a funding total of more than $825,000. Congregation Beth Ami in Santa Rosa, the Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, Peninsula Sinai Congregation in Foster City, Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, the Brandeis School of San Francisco and El Cerrito’s Tehiyah Day School each received between $67,000 and $150,000. Three Jewish institutions in the Sacramento area received a total of $390,000 in funding.

The SIlicon Valley Federation used its grant funding to add barrier posts, protective window film and security cameras, director of development Marci Gordon said.

The Jewish community is always aware of security needs, but the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting heightened security concerns, according to Gordon.

“Obviously, post-Pittsburgh everybody was very concerned about what that could potentially mean for us,” Gordon said.

The Jewish Federation of the East Bay is working to set up local security grants to supplement the federal funding. The Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley has provided funding for six local Jewish organizations so they could conduct detailed security analyses to assess their vulnerabilities.

“We made an offer to all of the synagogues and Jewish organizational campuses, and six of them took us up on it,” Gordon said.

The Pittsburgh shooting, which left 11 congregants dead, is one of the deadliest attacks on Jewish people in U.S. history. Synagogues and Jewish institutions immediately worked to boost their security, with measures including armed guards and off-duty police on patrol.

“Unfortunately, it’s just a challenging time to be doing this kind of work,” Glass said, “so we’re trying to stay on top of it.”

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