The Adath Israel Synagogue in Toronto will receive $95,112 for security upgrades under the federal Security Infrastructure Program (SIP).
Toronto-area Liberal MP Michael Levitt made the announcement on behalf of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale at the North York synagogue on Aug. 28, weeks ahead of the federal election.
Levitt said that in a time of rising anti-Semitism and deadly attacks on synagogues in the United States, the Jewish community should feel safe and secure when it gathers at places of worship and community centres.
“We are concerned about resurgent anti-Semitism in our country and around the world,” he said. “We take these things seriously. No Canadian should have to pray in fear.”
Citing Toronto police statistics and those gathered by other law enforcement agencies across the country, as well as B’nai Brith Canada, Levitt said Jews are increasingly being targeted.
There is a “growing climate of anti-Semitism.… This issue has only deteriorated and become more serious,” he said.
“As Canadians, we are fortunate to live in an inclusive and diverse country – something we must not take for granted. The Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program is an important initiative to help protect all Canadians, but particularly those communities targeted by hate-motivated crime like anti-Semitism as they exercise their right to practise their faith and culture without fear. There is no social license for hate, not in Canada.”
Adath Israel will use the money to pay for security cameras, outdoor lights, fences and bullet-resistant glass.
Phil David, the executive-director of Adath Israel, said the synagogue submitted its application for funding on July 31, 2018. Approval was granted early in 2019 and work began on security improvements in March, concluding in July.
The SIP funds will reimburse the synagogue for the improvements already made, he said.
Like other institutions in the Jewish community, in recent years, Adath Israel has developed a long-term security strategy in co-ordination with the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs and private security firms.
Given the attacks on worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and Chabad of Poway in California, congregation members are concerned over issues of safety, David said.
With the recent round of upgrades, the synagogue is on its way to meeting its long-term security needs, including better protection at entry points and at gathering points, David noted.
“Recognizing what is happening in religious institutions around the world, it is no surprise that the top priority for the Adath Israel Congregation is the safety and security of its members and visitors,” said Rabbi Adam Cutler.
“We are grateful to the Government of Canada and the public safety department to be a recipient of the latest SIP grant funding. The financial assistance we have received has provided a vital boost to our synagogue’s overall safety and security program.
“As an at-risk minority, it’s no surprise that our congregation wants to know we’ve made every effort to put their security needs at the top of our priority list and that we will always be looking to improve in the future. Federal SIP grant funding enables that and remains crucial for non-profit institutions like Adath Israel.”
Levitt noted that in the last few years, the federal government has increased the annual allocation for community security funding from $1 million to $4 million.
In August, the Jewish Russian Community Centre announced it was spending $31,749 in SIP funds for security upgrades to its Rockford Road location, near Bathurst Street and Steeles Avenue.
According to the Government of Canada website, “SIP supports the implementation of projects to help communities with a demonstrated history of being victimized by hate-motivated crime through the enhancement of their security infrastructure.”