WASHINGTON (JNS) — U.S. President Donald Trump signed a bill on Friday that allocates $375 million over five years to synagogues and other houses of worship, as well as additional other nonprofits, to help protect themselves against terror attacks.
The Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act will allocate $75 million annually under the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP).
Trump called it an “incredible piece of legislation.”
“It took a long time to get it here, but this is something that is very, very special and great for you as mayors,” he told those in the Oval Office for the signing of the bill. Attendees included Jewish Federations of North America president and CEO Eric Fingerhut and American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) executive vice president Rabbi Levi Shemtov.
“We’re very grateful to President Trump for authorizing this funding to keep synagogues, churches and other houses of worship safe,” Orthodox Union executive director for Public Policy Nathan Diament said in a statement. “Jews today are facing violence on a scale we have never witnessed before in America, and the perpetrators must be stopped. The president’s actions demonstrate his understanding of these threats and the need to protect not only Jews, but all people of faith.”
Separately, as part of the federal appropriations legislation passed last month, Congress increased funding for the NSGP to $90 million—a 50 percent increase over the $60 million funding in 2019.
The NSGP provides grants of up to $100,000 each to nonprofits at risk of terrorist attacks so they may improve building security by acquiring and installing items ranging from fences, lighting and video surveillance to metal detectors and blast-resistant doors, locks and windows. Funding may also be used to train staff and pay for contracted security personnel.
These funds have become more critical for the Jewish community in the aftermath of the Oct. 27, 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 Jewish worshippers were killed, and six months later, the April 27 shooting at Chabad of Poway in Southern California, where one woman was killed and three others injured; and in the aftermath of a recent string of anti-Semitic attacks in New York and New Jersey.