Washington — A U.S. Senate subcommittee voted to more than double funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to $25 million for the coming year.
The Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee approved the increase for the 2016 fiscal year on Tuesday from the current $13 million. The full Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to vote on the funding on Thursday.
Funds from the security grant program are used to assist synagogues, day schools and other Jewish nonprofits in making their buildings more secure.
The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, Agudath Israel of America and the Jewish Federations of North America have actively supported the increase.
“We have seen a disturbing rise in threats and attacks on community institutions and, when finalized, the funds provided under the NSGP will not only keep our community safer, it will also be a statement of solidarity and support in the face of such threats,” said Nathan Diament, the Orthodox Union’s executive director for public policy.
The increase in the appropriation for security grants is “a profoundly important development,” said Rabbi Abba Cohen, the Washington director of Agudah. “It represents the subcommittee’s understanding that the terrorist risk to American lives is real and continuing, and that the safety of these lives rises above political differences — that, in today’s world, more resources need to be devoted to increase the level of protection for our vulnerable institutions and populations, not less.”
William Daroff, senior vice president for public policy and director of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Washington office, said the funds “have been critical in protecting our communities.”
“The increase comes at a time when anti-Semitism in the U.S. has risen by more than 21 percent between 2013 and 2014, and when terrorist groups like ISIL, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and Hezbollah continue to incite violence against Jews in the West.”