Federation helps local organizations procure more than $900,000 in security grants
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SecuritySome grants will go to 'major security initiatives'

Federation helps local organizations procure more than $900,000 in security grants

Two non-Jewish organizations assisted by the Federation — Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh and Center of Life — also will receive grants.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh (Photo by Adam Reinherz)
The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh (Photo by Adam Reinherz)

More than $900,000 in state security grants have been awarded to local Jewish organizations by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh announced last week.

Chabad of the South Hills, Congregation Poale Zedeck and Tree of Life, Inc., each were awarded grants of $150,000, while Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh was awarded a grant of $111,5000.

B’nai Emunoh Chabad, The Jewish Spark and Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh will each receive $75,000.

Other Jewish organizations awarded state security grants include Community Day School ($25,000), Congregation Kether Torah ($25,000), Lubavitch Center ($25,000), Rodef Shalom Congregation ($25,810) and Temple Emanuel of South Hills ($20,000).

The Federation helped many of these organizations navigate the grant application system.

Additionally, two non-Jewish organizations assisted by the Federation — Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh and Center of Life — will receive grants in the amount of $25,000 and $46,327, respectively.

“This brings the total Pennsylvania and federal security grants [the Federation] helped to secure to $15,464,048 since 2020, including $2.4 million in Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program funds,” according to Adam Hertzman, the Federation’s director of marketing.

“Getting these grants can be complicated,” Hertzman said, so the Federation works with organizations to “pull the information together they need” and sometimes “literally doing the writing.”

Some of the larger grants will go to “major security initiatives,” including significant building improvements, according to Shawn Brokos, the Federation’s director of community security.

The process for obtaining state security grants has become “very competitive,” Brokos said. For this round, there were requests from more than 530 nonprofits totaling $24.6 million. A total of $5 million was awarded to fewer than 100 applicants.

“But we have a process in the Jewish community where we work together and support one another in these grant applications,” she said. “I think it’s a very good approach and it’s an approach we have a lot of success with, and we’re actually starting to share that collaborative effort with some of our other faith-based and vulnerable organizations.”

The Federation is proud to help non-Jewish nonprofits through its outreach program, which Hertzman said “dovetails nicely” with the work the Federation’s Community Relations Council does to build trust and goodwill with other marginalized and faith communities.

“We want the Jewish community to be supportive of security in those communities and vice versa,” Hertzman said. “And a great way to do that is helping them secure resources to do it. So we are trying to make sure those communities are safe and feel safe.”

Hertzman credited Pennsylvania’s elected officials “who continue to pay attention to the rise in antisemitism and respond to the rise in antisemitism with ideas and legislation that may be able to help, and to provide money to Jewish community and faith communities and minority communities who are under threat.”

Reports of antisemitic incidents, locally and nationally, have increased since the Israel-Hamas war began with Hamas’ attack of Israeli civilians on Oct. 7.

Last weekend, about 200 synagogues and Jewish institutions across the United States received bomb threats via email, including one synagogue in Pittsburgh and one in Morgantown, West Virginia, Brokos said.

The threats — which were emailed to the Pittsburgh and Morgantown congregations on Saturday morning — were a hoax, Brokos said, and a continuation of a months-long spree of hoax threats around the country.

There was no disruption to religious services in Pittsburgh, although services were interrupted in other locales, including Colorado and Alabama.

The Secure Community Network “has tracked more than 449 swatting incidents and bomb threats in 2023-to-date, up 541% from 2022 (83 incidents), as compared to a total of 23 between 2019-2021,” The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday.

The Federation also continues to receive reports of “antisemitic graffiti, verbal assaults, hateful emails and hateful rhetoric,” Brokos said. “We are encouraging anybody who sees antisemitic graffiti to call 911 and report, it because law enforcement is investigating these incidents and without a report, they have no record of it.” PJC

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at ttabachnick@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

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