Creating peace of mind

Five Towns institutions receive grant money from Homeland Security

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Six Jewish institutions will receive a portion of $450,000 from the Department of Homeland Security’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program to purchase equipment to aid in safeguarding their campuses.

The Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway, the Hebrew Academy of Long Beach, Kulanu Academy in Cedarhurst, Young Israel in Woodmere and Kehilas Bais Yehudah Tzvi in Cedarhurst will receive money, as well as Central Synagogue-Beth Emeth in Rockville Centre. All the nonprofits will receive $75,000, except for Kehilas Bais Yehudah Tzvi. The synagogue will get $74,800.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant from the federal government to upgrade our security system with new cameras and new security gates,” Reuben Maron, HAFTR’s executive director said in a prepared news release.

Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City), who has previously helped to obtain these grants for local Jewish institutions, said the funding is vital considering what has already happened across the country.

“At a time when acts of anti-Semitism have dramatically increased in the U.S. and the thread of terrorism continues to evolve, one of the most effective things we can do is to help potential targets enhance their security and emergency response capabilities and prepare for worst case scenarios,” the congresswoman said in the news release.

The money is helpful and provides peace of mind for synagogue congregants. “This grant will allow us to invest in the security and protection of our Synagogue and congregants so we can focus our efforts on our prayers and continued service to the community,” said Yoel Goldfeder, chairman of the Security Committee at Kehillas Bais Yehudah Tzvi, in the release.

The rise of white nationalism and anti-Semitic hate crimes has put many people in the Five Towns on edge. “In today’s time, security for all is critical,” Dr. Beth Raskin, executive director of Kulanu Academy, said in the release. “Those who cannot sufficiently defend themselves are at greater risk … Creating a secure exterior double entry portico ensures peace of mind for students, families and employees.”

Last year, Rice helped to obtain nearly $575,000 in funding for several Jewish nonprofits. In 2015, it was a total of $150,000 for Aish Kodesh shul in Woodmere and the Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Merrick in 2015.

“I’m pleased that we secured this funding to help enhance security measures at Jewish nonprofits in our district, and I’ll continue working to ensure that all of our communities have the resources and support they need to keep people safe,” she said.

Breathing packs for firefighters

The Inwood Fire Department will receive a $230,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistance to Firefighters program and will now be to buy the 41 breathing units it has been leasing since the 2014 death of firefighter Joseph Sanford Jr.

Sanford, who was equipped with a breathing unit that was considered up to the standards of the time, responded to a Woodmere house fire in December of that year. He fell through the first floor and lost consciousness. He died four days later. Fire Department officials believe that the improved technology will help save to firefighters’ lives.