VANCOUVER — Vancouver’s Congregation Schara Tzedek and Ohel Ya’akov Community Kollel are among the Jewish institutions across Canada that recently announced they had received funds from the federal government’s Security Infrastructure Program.
They received approximately $20,000 from the program, which was launched in 2007 to assist communities at risk of hate crimes in covering the cost of upgrading or installing security measures.
“We received $7,000 two months ago and used it to install video cameras, to alarm the building and to install double locks to make the kollel more secure,” said Rabbi Shmuli Yeshayahu, a director at the Kollel.
“We’ve had a few incidents in the building over the past few years, including swastikas spray-painted twice,” he said. “When we heard about the Security Infrastructure Program, we applied for it and were surprised how easy and accessible the program was, and how accommodating the government was in helping us.”
Congregation Schara Tzedek received a matching grant of $12,575 from the SIP. The impetus for its submission came in January 2009, during Israel’s war in Gaza, when Schara Tzedek held an Israel solidarity rally attended by 1,000 people.
“There were pro-Palestinian demonstrators that parked themselves outside the building during the rally, and there was some hostile name-calling and a heightened sense of vulnerability,” said Ed Lewin, the shul’s chair of security. “It was upsetting to say the least.”
After hearing about the program last summer, Schara Tzedek approached the federal government for assistance in improving its security measures. It received the first part of its grant in December 2009 and used it to upgrade the synagogue’s intrusion and motion detection, closed circuit television and alarm systems.
“The funds from the program were very timely, and we’re very grateful for it,” Lewin said.
Earlier this month, five Toronto synagogues and a Jewish day school announced they have received or will be receiving some $90,000 from the program to defray the cost of security measures.