Less than a month after South Shore residents gathered on the steps of Rockville Centre’s Central Synagogue – Beth Emeth to denounce hatred in response to violence in Charlottesville, Va., the U.S. Department of Homeland Security awarded the synagogue $55,689 to enhance security measures.
The grant process began last year, according to Joy Gluzman, the synagogue’s program and social media coordinator, who added that she is excited to see the synagogue’s focus on safety pay off. Threats to Jewish community centers around the country earlier this year, including two in Nassau County — in Plainview and Oceanside — led to police heightening patrols around religious institutions, and the most recent anti-Semitic rhetoric by white supremacists in Virginia last month highlight a continued need for safety among such buildings.
“At a time when acts of anti-Semitism have dramatically increased in the U.S. and the threat of terrorism continues to evolve, one of the most effective things we can do is to help potential targets enhance their security and emergency response capabilities and prepare for worst case scenarios,” said Rice, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. “I’m pleased that we secured this funding to help enhance security measures at Jewish nonprofits in our district, and I’ll continue working to ensure that all of our communities have the resources and support they need to keep people safe.”
Gluzman said the funds — which are the full amount the synagogue requested — will go toward more secure doors at its school and wheelchair ramp entrances next to the parking lot, as well as be used to implement a new electronic entry system to better control access into the building. Central Synagogue – Beth Emeth plans on applying for more funding in the future for “Phase Two,” Gluzman added, to continue building upon its current security measures.
“We are thrilled to receive the grant,” said Rabbi Marc A. Gruber, of Central Synagogue – Beth Emeth. “Especially in these troubled times, it will help keep the people coming to our synagogue feel more secure in their home away from home.”
The grant was awarded through the department’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which supports security enhancements at non-profit organizations that are deemed to be at a high risk for terrorist attacks. A total of 6.7 million was provided to institutions in the greater New York area, including $450,000 to six Jewish organizations on the South Shore.
In addition to Central Synagogue – Beth Emeith, grant recipients included the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach, the Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway, Kulanu Academy and Kehilas Bais Yehudah Tzvi, both in Cedarhurst, and Young Israel of Woodmere.
“We live in a very scary age, and so it is a priority of mine to fight to ensure that synagogues and other religious institutions are protected,” said State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who was among those who condemned anti-Semitism and all hatred at last month’s vigil in response to Charlottesville. “I am happy that local facilities will benefit from this grant and I thank Congresswoman Rice for her fantastic advocacy on behalf of Long Island.”