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U.S. spending bill includes funds for synagogue security

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The Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh. (Dan Rosenberg photo)

Jewish groups praised the new spending bill signed by president Donald Trump for approving funds to help non-profit groups pay for security at their institutions.

The $60 million for fiscal year 2019 to fund the Non-profit Security Grant Program (NSGP), which helps synagogues, other houses of worship, religious day schools and a variety of non-profits improve the security of their buildings was part of the larger $330 billion spending bill signed on Friday that averts a government shutdown.

The Department of Homeland Security, which administers the program, awards grants of as much as $150,000 to eligible non-profits at risk of terrorist attacks. The non-profits use the funding to acquire and install items ranging from fences, lighting and video surveillance to metal detectors and blast-resistant doors, locks and windows.

The spending bill also increased defence aid to Israel by $200 million for fiscal year 2019 and extends U.S. loan guarantees for five years.

“We are grateful to Congress for the continued bipartisan support to fund the NSGP program in FY 2019 and we look forward to working with them to maximize the resources available through the program in FY 2020,” the Jewish Federations of North America said in a statement.

“Sadly, as anti-Semitism continues to proliferate across the United States, this funding is essential for us to better protect our community – children and adults alike. Maintaining the Non-profit Security Grant funding at its existing level will help us as we remain ever vigilant against attacks by those motivated by age-old hatred and vitriol against Jews. We look forward to better times when the NSGP isn’t needed at all,” said Orthodox Union President Mark Bane.