The Office for Victims of Crime of the U.S. Justice Department announced a $3,863,606 Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program grant for the victims of the Oct. 27, 2018 massacre at the Tree of Life building. The Shabbat morning attack left 11 people dead and seven others, including five police officers, injured.
There were 31 people inside the building at the time of the shooting. Scores of others, including family members and first responders, also were adversely affected.
“Eleven innocent people lost their lives and many others were wounded or left deeply scarred by an appalling act of hate committed as they were engaged in the most hallowed act of devotion called for by their faith,” said Katharine T. Sullivan, principal deputy assistant attorney general of the Office of Justice Programs, in a prepared statement. “The taking of innocent lives in a house of worship is not only a shocking crime, it must be a particular abomination in the eyes of God. We grieve for those who were taken, extend prayers to all who are left to mourn and send our support to those walking the long road of healing and recovery.”
“We empty our hearts to the members of the Tree of Life, Dor Hadash and New Light Jewish congregations in the wake of this incomprehensible tragedy,” said Jessica Hart, director of the Office for Victims of Crime, in a prepared statement. “We recognize that programs being supported by this funding are lifelines to this community; and we pray the services and hope they offer will provide an unwavering foundation for those impacted by this act of hate.”
Almost one in every five hate crime offenses reported to police in 2018 was prompted by religious bias, according to the FBI.
The Anti-terrorism and Emergency Assistance Program grant “will provide supplemental funds to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s Office of Victims’ Services to support victims by providing individual and group mental health counseling, trauma training for therapists and counseling and Stress First Aid for first responders,” according to a press release. “Funding also supports reimbursement for Family Assistance Center costs, victim-related expenses for the three congregations and the Center for Victims Healing Rivers project, a first‐of‐its‐kind interactive exhibit and wellness center designed to help individuals heal their past trauma and unlock a better future.”
The grant money comes from the Crime Victims Fund that is financed by fines and penalties paid by convicted federal offenders. PJC
– Toby Tabachnick