In response to fatal attacks at two synagogues in the United States in the last year, as well as a spike in anti-Semitic attacks on Jews here, UJA-Federation of New York last week announced a new $4 million initiative to help upgrade security at Jewish institutions in the New York area.
The new plan will include the hiring of seven full-time professionals to oversee Jewish security needs — five based locally in Long Island, Westchester, Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan — as well as funding for new security programs and an enhanced security-centered communications system among Jewish organizations.
The security professionals will not be guarding Jewish sites themselves, but will assist heads of Jewish organizations in doing it better, said Eric Goldstein, UJA-Federation CEO.
In recent months UJA-Federation, like Jewish federations around the U.S., has received an increasing number of requests for help and advice about safety and security concerns, Goldstein said.
“In the aftermath of [synagogue shootings in] Pittsburgh and Poway, [Calif.] and recognizing an alarming increase in anti-Semitic incidents in New York, we’re significantly upgrading New York’s security infrastructure to further protect our Jewish institutions and all who go through their doors,” Goldstein told The Jewish Week. “Working with experts in the field, we’ve designed a community-wide plan to provide critical resources, training, and equipment.”
The security coordinators, the first of whom is expected to be hired in October, will assist Jewish institutions in several areas: conducting security assessments; accessing government funding; assessing institutions’ best practices and emergency procedure training; and coordinating with local and federal law enforcement and the Jewish Federations of North America’s Secure Community Network (SCN).
Eligible participants will include synagogues, schools, camps, Jewish community centers and other institutions. “Hundreds and hundreds” of Jewish institutions will be eligible to participate, said Goldstein, who called the new program “a significant expansion” of UJA-Federation’s previous security work here.
The “one stop in the neighborhood” program, under the aegis of UJA-Federation’s security committee, is designed to “offer some sense of comfort” to Jewish organizations concerned about the climate of anti-Semitism, he said. “In a year in which 12 people were murdered simply for being Jewish, and dozens attacked right here in New York, we’re committed to enhancing the security infrastructure for Jewish institutions across the New York area.”
The new security effort is a collaboration between UJA-Federation, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and the Westchester Jewish Council.
“Securing Jewish communal institutions has been an important element of JCRC-NY’s mission since its founding. Unfortunately, each year the need grows,” said Michael Miller, JCRC executive vice president.
UJA-Federation’s previous security advocacy efforts helped arrange $45 million in new funding from New York State for such institutions as child care centers, nonpublic schools, and residential and day camps. The philanthropy also worked the Jewish Federations of North America to help secure a total of $60 million earmarked for security nationwide.
Goldstein said funding for the new initiative, an expansion of UJA-Federation’s previous security work, came from UJA-Federation’s general budget, as well as The Paul E. Singer Foundation, Carolyn and Marc Rowan and several other foundations and philanthropists.