Five local Jewish organizations received a total of $585,293 in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grants for security, thanks to efforts by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
The sum, which represents nearly 20% of the total awarded in Pennsylvania, is a result of Federation’s ability to partner with individuals and organizations across the commonwealth, explained Shawn Brokos, the Federation’s director of Jewish community security.
The grants come from the Federal Non-profit Security Grant Program (NSGP), which is administered through the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). After organizations apply to PEMA, FEMA makes evaluations and approvals.
Local recipients were Beth El Congregation of the South Hills; Congregation Beth Shalom; Congregation Poale Zedeck; The New Riverview (part of Jewish Association on Aging); and Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh.
Under FEMA guidelines, these organizations can use the money for critical security enhancements, such as reinforced and secured doors, bollards (perimeter posts) and fencing.
In an effort to boost the likelihood of applicants succeeding, the Federation brought on grant writers Randie Engle and Ilene Cohen to help organizations submit requests for funding.
“Having these two professionals we relied on as consultants really gave us a competitive edge,” said Brokos. “I know many of our organizations worked very hard to write and submit the grants. It’s an arduous process to go through, but one of the only avenues we have to raise funds to better secure our organizations.”
The Federation is “grateful to our Pennsylvania and federal elected officials and government leaders for supporting these much-needed security upgrades,” said Jeffrey Finkelstein, president and CEO of the Federation, in a prepared statement. “Working with Jewish agencies and synagogues to improve security is so important in an environment of rising antisemitism.”
Given the rise of antisemitism and active shooting incidents across the country, the Federation remains deeply committed to “making sure our facilities are secure, especially now more than ever,” she said. “This grant is absolutely critical to continuing the great work we’ve done in better securing our Jewish community, as well as other organizations in the Greater Pittsburgh area that are susceptible to terrorism.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.