The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and UJA-Federation of New York have established a $250,000 fund to support at least 50 small Brooklyn synagogues — also known as shtiebels — enhance their security programming.

In an press release, the UJA-Federation of New York said the fund came as Jews increasingly feared attending synagogues amid escalating antisemitic incidents.

UJA-Federation and JCRC-NY’s joint Community Security Initiative will run the program, which they said closes a funding gap that often excludes smaller synagogues from accessing government or other funds for physical security enhancements.

The new security enhancement packages can include the installation of new doors, locks and video cameras, and will be followed by active shooter and access control training for staff or key congregants.

The synagogues to be included in the upgrades are located in Williamsburg, Crown Heights, Borough Park, Flatbush, Midwood, and Kensington have a capacity of fewer than 200 people and little or no staff, UJA-Federation said.

According to UJA-Federation, the upgrades and trainings will be coordinated with community groups, including Agudath Israel of America, Boro Park Jewish Community Council, Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, and Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush, as well as neighborhood civilian patrols.

UJA-Federation of New York CEO Eric S. Goldstein said in a statement that no synagogue should be left without proper security measures because they lacked access to necessary funding.

“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,” he said.

There are approximately 250 small synagogues in Brooklyn, and most do not have basic security measures in place to protect against increased threats that Jewish institutions are confronting, UJA-Federation said. The NYPD hate crimes unit reported 22 hate crimes against Jewish people so far this year, compared to eight in the same time period last year.

Assemblymember Simcha Eichenstein said security was imperative in every single house of worship and he encouraged shuls to take advantage of “this vital program.”

“Unfortunately, criminals who hate do not distinguish between small or large houses of worship. They will seize any opportunity to wreak havoc, no matter the size or type of synagogue,” he said.

Anna Bradley-Smith

Anna Bradley-Smith is Brooklyn-based reporter with bylines in NBC, VICE, Slate and others. Follow her on Twitter @annabradsmith.

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