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Homeland Security releases funds to nonprofits, mostly Jewish

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security released $19 million to secure nonprofits, the vast majority Jewish.

Of the 271 institutions named in a list released this week by Homeland Security, 254 are Jewish, including synagogues, schools, community centers and offices.

The funds were released as part of a congressionally mandated program in place since 2005 that targets institutions that are vulnerable to attack.

Security measures funded include "blast-proof windows; reinforced doors, locks, gates, and fences; video surveillance; and other equipment and enhancements" as well as training, according to a release by the Jewish Federations of North America, the federations umbrella body that lobbies annually for the funding.

"The Nonprofit Security Grant Program is a proven resource that helps supplement the work of local and federal law enforcement to help keep us safe," William Daroff, JFNA’s Washington director, said in a statement.  

Other groups lobbying for the money include two Orthodox umbrella bodies, the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel of America.

OU called the funds "an important tool to help prevent terrorist attacks and protect civilians in case of such attack" and Agudah said "threats and actual incidents of violence against Jewish targets in the United States and around the world point to the particular vulnerability of our community."

Sen. Barbara Mikuski (D-Md.), who has shepherded the funding through congressional appropriations, said she remained committed to sustaining the program.

"I have fought for these funds in the past, and I will keep fighting to protect institutions that are vital to our communities and the physical, social, spiritual and educational well-being of all Americans," she said.

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