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Gottheimer Announces $2.1 Million in Grants For Counterterrorism, Security to NJ Nonprofits

In a press conference held Monday, July 26, Congressman Josh Gottheimer gathered with local officials at Cong. Keter Torah in Teaneck to announce the largest federal security grant ever awarded to New Jersey’s Fifth District. The $2.1 million grant targets counterterrorism and security specifically for nonprofits such as schools, community centers and religious institutions, churches and synagogues. Fifteen recipients were granted funds, and most of them at or near the maximum level of $150,000.

Amongst the recipients are Ben Porat Yosef; four congregations in Teaneck: Rinat Yisrael, Shaarei Orah, Beth Aaron, Keter Torah; Jewish Family Services; Sinai Schools; Fair Lawn Jewish Center (which also houses Naaleh High School for Girls,); JCC/Congregation Beth Tikvah in Paramus; and B‘nai Jeshurun Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, as well as three churches.

Congressman Gottheimer explained,” This program is critical to protecting North Jersey families and communities nationwide from violent threats. Nonprofit Security Grant Program investment is to enhance the protection of soft targets and crowded places through operational coordination; public information and warning; intelligence and information sharing; interdiction and disruption; screening, search, and detection; access control and identity verification; physical protective measures; and risk management for protection programs and activities. It also provides for safety and security through security guards, physical security enhancements like closed circuit television security cameras, training, security screening equipment for people and baggage, and access controls like fencing, gates, and barriers.

“This whole program is about fighting antisemitism, hate, white supremacy and lone-wolf terror. It is about protecting against anyone who seeks to harm our families,” added Gottheimer, also a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. “It’s about making sure that our churches, synagogues and mosques are safe, and that religious institutions and freedom, which are so deep at the heart of who we are, are safe.”

Gottheimer was joined by Teaneck Township Manager Dean Kazinci; Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton; Josef Katz, President of Congregation Keter Torah; Deena Seelenfreund, NJ Regional Manager from Community Security Service and Head of Security for Keter Torah; Nissan Clark, Community Security Service Manager for Rinat Yisrael; Teaneck Councilmembers Karen Orgen and Keith Kaplan; and Orthodox Union representative Ben Hutt.

Clark expressed his appreciation: “We thank you for the grant that will allow us to practice our religion without worrying, and that our families, our children can sit and relax and not worry about the threats that surround us.”

Gottheimer remarked, “Unfortunately, like far too many temples, churches, mosques, religious schools and affiliated institutions, Keter Torah has faced antisemitic and hate-driven threats over the years—a direct attack on their religious freedom. New Jersey, I’m sad to say, has become a hotbed of hatred.

Since Gottheimer’s election in 2016, New Jersey’s Fifth District has received more than any other district in the state, $6.3 million, a collective effort of the temples, synagogues, mosques, and churches who have worked closely with him to this end.

“Since today’s threat environment continues to evolve so quickly, the program helps organizations plan for and ready themselves against evolving violence and attacks, especially to support security enhancements for the religious institutions at high risk of attack. This includes items like cameras, bulletproof glass, fencing, card readers, hiring security officers and hosting preparedness training,” Gottheimer said.

Gottheimer noted that as a member of the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Antisemitism, he cosponsored the bipartisan National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality Act, or NO HATE Act, to strengthen federal laws that combat hate speech, threats and attacks (also called the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act), which President Biden signed into law earlier this year, and makes the reporting of hate crimes more accessible at the local and state levels.

Concluding the conference emphatically, Gottheimer declared, “There is no reason why standing up to hate, standing up to antisemitism, standing up to the targeting of any of our communities, is partisan. This is about coming together as a country and as a district to make it clear that there is no place for hate in Northern New Jersey or anywhere in our country. It’s what our community needs and deserves. If we continue to work together and stand up for our values and beliefs, here in the greatest country in the world, our best days will always be ahead of us.”

By Ellie Wolf

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