Keeping her promise to deliver Homeland Security funds to her district, Rep. Grace Meng announced this week that $1.6 million in grants have been awarded to 16 Jewish institutions across Queens.
“For years, I have worked to expand funding and awareness of these grants, and after last December’s horrifying attack in Monsey, I urged more local facilities to apply,” Meng said. “Many did so, and I’m pleased to have worked with several of them to help secure this money. We cannot let our guard down for a moment. Safety and security must continue to be the number one priority, and I remain committed to doing everything possible to ensure that Jewish facilities are protected from those who seek to do harm.”
The grants were awarded after Meng held a workshop in Queens this past January that helped houses of worship and nonprofits in the borough learn about the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NGSP), and how they could successfully apply for funding. The Congresswoman hosted the event in Kew Gardens prior to this year’s application deadline, which was in March.
Among the sizable institutions receiving $100,000 in federal money are Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, the Young Israel of Queens Valley, the Young Israel of Hillcrest, and the sizable schools that are the Bais Yaakov of Queens, the Yeshiva of Central Queens, and Jewish Institute of Queens.
Along with institutions that understand the process and requirements of applying, the knowledge also comes from Meng, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, the panel that funds all federal agencies, programs, and projects. In the last fiscal year, Meng brought $90 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program.
“It is very exciting and gratifying to see the expansion of the program – more funds, more locations, more security,” noted Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel of America’s Vice President for Government Affairs and Washington Director. “Particularly at this time of unrest, with an uptick in anti-Semitic incidents, the program continues to be vitally important to the Jewish community.”
With fewer donations being allocated to synagogues, funds used for private security guards and off-duty police officers are not as easily available. As the city and state leaders noted, federal support is vital in meeting local needs.
The outgoing chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Nita Lowey, also took care of her district, which includes sizable Jewish communities in Rockland County, with nearly $2 million in grants. Following last December’s attack on a synagogue in Monsey, she expanded the category of at-risk communities to include the suburbs.
“All Americans deserve and have the right to live their lives without fear, and this is especially true in the Jewish community, where the threats and dangers are tangible,” observed Rabbi Cohen. “We will continue to seek to bolster NSGP so that our synagogues, schools, camps, charities, and social service agencies will be safe and secure for our families.”
By Sergey Kadinsky