Synagogues, Mosques Getting Federal Help As Hate Crimes Rise

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CBS13) — The Department of Homeland Security is offering tens of thousands of dollars to religious institutions to help safeguard their houses of worship.

Temple Or Rishon, a Jewish synagogue in Orangevale recently targeted by vandals, is one of the recipients of this
nationwide grant program.

“Our primary concern is the safety of our congregants,” said Ted Blumenstein, the synagogue’s past president, who now heads its security committee.

READ MORE: Vandals Post Anti-Semitic Posters On Synagogue In Sacramento Area

On Nov. 4, vandals put up hateful and anti-Semitic posters on the temple’s walls.

The perpetrators seen on surveillance video have not been caught.

“We are not gonna be victims; this grant is our way of being proactive,” said Blumenstein. “This is the application process; it’s extremely extensive. And not all cities qualify, but Sacramento County does.”

Blumenstein says applying for the Department of Homeland Security’s nonprofit security grant program is rigorous, with eligibility based on vulnerability.

“Are you vulnerable to damage, to threats to terrorism and have there been any instances in the past?” he said.

ALSO READ: Woman Convicted In Davis Mosque Vandalism Banned From Social Media For 5 Years

Temple Or Rishon will be using the $75,000 grant award towards better lighting, more sophisticated surveillance cameras, and a safer entry and exit system.

“…Not just controlling who comes in, but if someone leaves, you can remove them from the list of authorized people and track the times people come in,” he said.

Some mosques in the region have also been recent targets of vandals.

“Right now with the spike in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic incidents. this is a great program to boost security at synagogues, at mosques, at churches,” said CAIR Executive Director Basim Elkarra.

The FBI’s latest report released Monday shows hate crimes rose in 2016, making this funding that much more critical.

“I would suggest every religious institution take a look at it. The money is there, but the state has said their concern is not enough centers are applying,” says Blumenstein.

In California, 53 grants were awarded this year, three of which were in Sacramento. To apply, you must go through the California Office of Emergency Services, he says.

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