As part of the bipartisan 2014 Appropriations Bill passed on Thursday, Congress approved an allocation of $13 million for the Non-Profit Security Grant Program (NSGP). The initiative provides funding for security equipment for non-profit institutions, in selected cities, at high risk of violence or terrorist attack. Shuls, yeshivos and other Jewish community institutions have been among the beneficiaries of the program over the years.
“This year’s appropriation is of particular significance,” said Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel of America’s Vice President of Federal Government Affairs and Washington Director, “as it represents an increase of $3 million over 2013 levels.”
“At a time when budgets are getting tighter and spending is being dramatically cut, Congress’ action represents a meaningful ‘vote of confidence’ for the program,” Rabbi Cohen asserted.
NSGP was authorized in 2004 to help secure non-profit institutions, which are considered particularly vulnerable targets either because of their “symbolic” value or because they are entities where large populations congregate. Yet, as non-profits, they often do not have the resources to adequately protect their buildings and facilities. The program addresses this problem by providing funds to acquire security cameras, concrete barriers, reinforced doors and other such security enhancements. NSGP was originally introduced by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who continues to be a champion of the program.
Agudath Israel, along with the Jewish Federations of North America and a small group of Jewish community organizations, played a leading role in promoting the establishment of NSGP in 2004. Since that time, the Orthodox Jewish group has continued to be deeply engaged in this cooperative effort, working with the Administration and congressional leaders to maintain and strengthen the initiative.
“Protecting those who are at high risk of violence and terrorism has to be a top priority for our nation. It is an imperative that is particularly felt by the Jewish community, which over the years has been the victim of numerous threats and violent incidents by those bent on death and destruction. We applaud Congress for maintaining and enhancing this most vital program,” Rabbi Cohen observed.