New York federation funds security at smallest Orthodox synagogues

Monday’s announcement follows a spate of street attacks on visibly Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, as well as last month’s hostage-taking at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.

Law enforcement vehicles are seen in the area where a man has reportedly taken people hostage at a synagogue during services that were being streamed live, in Colleyville, Texas, US, January 15, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/Shelby Tauber)
Law enforcement vehicles are seen in the area where a man has reportedly taken people hostage at a synagogue during services that were being streamed live, in Colleyville, Texas, US, January 15, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Shelby Tauber)

UJA-Federation of New York created a $250,000 fund to beef up security in at least 50 small synagogues in Brooklyn.

Monday’s announcement follows a spate of street attacks on visibly Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn, as well as last month’s hostage-taking at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas.

The fund will serve “shtiebels” — congregations with fewer than 200 people and little or no staff — in the Midwood, Kensington, Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Borough Park and Flatbush neighborhoods. It will be administered by the Community Security Initiative, through the UJA’s affiliated Jewish Community Relations Council of New York.

Community groups and civilian patrols serving the densely populated Haredi Orthodox communities will help coordinate the funding.

Police officers guard the Tree of Life synagogue following shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US, October 27, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/JOHN ALTDORFER)Police officers guard the Tree of Life synagogue following shooting at the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, US, October 27, 2018. (credit: REUTERS/JOHN ALTDORFER)

“No synagogue should be left without proper security measures just because they lack access to necessary funding,” Eric S. Goldstein, CEO of UJA-Federation, said in a statement. “Whether praying in the largest shul in Manhattan or the smallest shtiebel in Brooklyn, every Jew deserves the right to worship in peace and security.”

Goldstein said smaller synagogues often lack the staff or capacity to access funding from government programs like the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, or other sources for security dollars.

State Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein, representing Borough Park and Midwood, welcomed the funding announcement.

“Unfortunately, criminals who hate do not distinguish between small or large houses of worship,” he said in a statement. “That’s why security is imperative in every single house of worship.”