Above: Gottheimer at Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck today.
TEANECK, NJ — Today, Monday, July 26, 2021, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) announced that fifteen organizations throughout New Jersey’s Fifth Congressional District — houses of worship, schools, and local community organizations — received new Nonprofit Security Grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for Fiscal Year 2021. The $2.l million in federal investment, which is the largest award ever for the Fifth District and the largest award of every Congressional District in the State, will provide security for churches, mosques, temples, religious schools, and other organizations that are at risk of a terrorist attack from homegrown and lone-wolf ISIS-inspired terrorists and white supremacists.
This program is critical to protecting North Jersey families and communities nationwide from violent threats.
Nonprofit Security Grant Program investment is to enhance the protection of soft targets and crowded places through operational coordination; public information and warning; intelligence and information sharing; interdiction and disruption; screening, search, and detection; access control and identity verification; physical protective measures; and risk management for protection programs and activities. It also provides for safety and security through security guards, physical security enhancements like closed circuit television security cameras, training, security screening equipment for people and baggage, and access controls like fencing, gates, and barriers.
Gottheimer has worked closely with religious organizations, counties, towns, and local organizations to help apply for and win competitive federal security grants, clawing back our federal tax dollars to fight homegrown terror. Several of the organizations succeeded in securing the maximum amount of grant investment of $150,000 for 2021.
“This whole program is about fighting against antisemitism and hate and white supremacy and lone-wolf terror. It is about protecting against anyone who seeks to harm our families,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.“This is about making sure that our churches and our synagogues and our mosques are safe, and that religious institutions and freedom, which are so deep at the heart of who we are, are safe.”
“We thank you for the grant that will allow us to practice our religion without worrying, and that our families, our children can sit and relax and not worry about the threats that surround us,” said Nissan Clark, the Community Security Service Manager for Rinat Yisreal.
“Year after year, Congressman Gottheimer has fought successfully to increase the investment of the non-profit security grant program. His efforts to secure funding ensures that our places of worship will be protected in the face of increasing anti-semitism, hate filled violence and acts of terror. We are extremely grateful to Congressman Josh Gottheimer and to Homeland Security for the NSGP funding, which enables congregants from all faiths to worship in peace without having to worry about their safety and security,” said Deena Seelenfreund, NJ Regional Manager from Community Security Service and Head of Security for Keter Torah.
Gottheimer was joined today by Teaneck Township Manager Dean Kazinci, Bergen County Sheriff Anthony Cureton, Josef Katz, President of Congregation Keter Torah; Deena Seelenfreund, NJ Regional Manager from Community Security Service and Head of Security for Keter Torah; Nissan Clark, Community Security Service Manager for Rinat Yisrael; Teaneck Councilmembers Karen Orgen and Keith Kaplan, and Orthodox Union representative Ben Hutt.
The Fifth District organizations receiving the Nonprofit Security Grants for Fiscal Year 2021 are:
· Ben Porat Yosef, Inc., Paramus – $150,000
· Christian Health Care Center (Sicomac Ave.), Wyckoff – $149,600
· Church of the Presentation, Upper Saddle River – $150,000
· Congregation Beth Aaron of Teaneck, Teaneck – $150,000
· Congregation B’Nai Jeshurun Barnert Memorial Temple, Franklin Lakes – $150,000
· Congregation Rinat Yisrael, Teaneck – $150,000
· Fair Lawn Jewish Center, Fair Lawn – $66,650
· Jewish Community Center of Paramus/Congregation Beth Tikvah, Paramus – $137,500
· Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Northern New Jersey, Inc., Teaneck – $150,000
· Malankara Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North America, Old Tappan – $150,000
· Northern Teaneck Synagogue Association dba Cong. Keter Torah, Teaneck – $150,000
· Sephardic Congregation Shaarai Orah of Teaneck, Inc., Teaneck – $150,000
· Sinai Special Needs Institute, Teaneck – $150,000
· Solomon Schechter Day School of Bergen County, New Milford – $150,000
· Yeshiva of North Jersey, River Edge – $150,000
Watch the press conference here.
Below: Gottheimer at Congregation Keter Torah in Teaneck today.
Gottheimer’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.
I want to say a special thank you to Keter Torah for hosting us here this morning. It is wonderful to be back. This congregation, and Rabbi Simcha Willig and Rabbi Andrew Israeli, are a staple in our community and the synagogue is also a long-time participant in the Non-Profit Security Grant Program, which is what we are here today to discuss.
Unfortunately, like far too many temples, churches, mosques, religious schools and affiliated institutions, Keter Torah has faced antisemitic and hate-driven threats over the years – a direct attack on their religious freedom. New Jersey, I’m sad to say, has become a hotbed of hatred.
This is a year that we all know is plaguing our nation. Both in New Jersey and across the nation, last year marked the third-highest year for antisemitic incidents, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Our state, in 2020, saw a 17 percent increase in antisemitic harassment. Hate motivated at Muslims and Catholics and others also continues to be an issue. According to that most recent data released by the ADL for New Jersey, there were a total of 295 antisemitic incidents in the Garden State in 2020 — the second–highest number recorded in any state across the country.
Bergen County is among the top two counties in New Jersey with the highest number of antisemitic incidents. Last year, a Jewish man in Bergen was assaulted while shopping and was told that Jewish people brought COVID-19 here. There was also a swastika banner on display in nearby Passaic County, which was eventually taken down.
The Nonprofit Security Grant program is all about combating these threats of antisemitism, hate, and on our religious freedoms. The competitive grant provides resources to help to ensure that our temples, mosques, churches, and religious schools are better protected, so that families are safer, and so we can live up to our values as a state and a nation. Because, as I know we all agree, hate is not — and will never be — welcome here in New Jersey. We are a no hate state.
To help combat hate, for the sixth year in a row, including right here at Keter Torah, we have clawed millions of federal dollars from Washington back to the Fifth District through the Non-Profit Security Grant Program (NSGP). I’m proud to announce that we are clawing back nearly double what our community received last year.
This year, we’re bringing back $2.1 million dollars, through the Non-Profit Security Grant Program — a huge win for our families and religious institutions and schools, including six synagogues, four schools, two churches, a senior care facility, and two local non-profit community organizations. What’s truly impressive is that twelve of these houses of worship, schools, and nonprofit organizations were able to claw back the maximum amount, $150,000, of annual investment through this federal program.
Since I was first elected in 2016, New Jersey’s Fifth District has received more than any other District in the entire State, $6.3 million, a direct investment in Northern Jersey that I’m very proud of. And I want to thank all of our temples, mosques, churches for working so closely with me and my office on this.
This program is critical to protecting our communities in North Jersey — and all across our nation — from violent threats by promoting emergency preparedness coordination and improving security systems.
Since today’s threat environment continues to evolve so quickly, this program helps organizations plan for and ready themselves against evolving violence and attacks, including to support security enhancements for our religious institutions at high risk of attack, including items like cameras, bulletproof glass, fencing, card readers, hiring security officers and hosting preparedness training.
Nonprofit Security Grant Program investment is to enhance the protection of soft targets and crowded places through operational coordination; public information and warning; intelligence and information sharing; interdiction and disruption; screening, search, and detection; access control and identity verification; physical protective measures; risk management for protection programs and activities; and to provide safety and security through private contracted security guards, as well as physical security enhancements like closed circuit television security cameras, security screening equipment for people and baggage, and access controls like fencing, gates, and barriers.
As I said earlier, the freedoms to live and worship as we choose — and to educate ourselves — are at the bedrock of the American idea, and protecting them is absolutely critical.
As one of our Founding Fathers, James Madison, said, “The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right.”
Now, these rights remain a major target for violence and lone-wolf, ISIS-inspired terrorism, as well as other threats of white supremacism and acts of hate and antisemitism.
During and following the conflict in Gaza earlier this year, we saw a massive rise in antisemitic attacks across the country, as people used the fighting as an excuse to justify violent rhetoric and attacks on Jews and Jewish communities — everywhere from New Jersey to Los Angeles and in between.
According to data from the FBI, hate crimes have risen to the highest numbers in a decade throughout the nation — affecting people of all different backgrounds, ethnicities, sexual orientations, gender, and disabilities.
This spike in recent years is marked especially by hate-fueled tragedies that occurred here in Jersey, in Jersey City and Monsey, as well as at the Walmart in El Paso, Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, synagogues in Pittsburgh and Poway, and the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, to name just a few.
As we’ve seen in one incident after another, the very safety and security of our communities hangs in the balance — which is why these investments clawed back through the Non-Profit Security Grant Program are so important.
With these federal dollars in place to help our organizations here in the Fifth District, I feel especially hopeful about our safety and security. We know that this investment we’re announcing — $2.1 million in federal dollars clawed back here to the Fifth District — will help all these organizations protect their congregations, their students, and the community members they serve.
To give you some highlights —
Christian Healthcare Center, in Wyckoff in Bergen County, offers high-quality senior living, short-term rehabilitation, and mental-health services to members of our community.
Congregation Shaarai Orah of Teaneck is an orthodox congregation in Teaneck.
The Sinai Special Needs Institute is a religious school for students with disabilities, providing much needed educational access for students with a range of special needs in our communities.
These organizations, along with Keter Torah — where we are today — and all the North Jersey recipients, will greatly benefit from this federal security investment.
Before I close, I’d like to introduce Deena from Keter Torah and Nissan from Rinat Yisrael to share a bit about what these federal dollars mean to their congregations.
The points you just heard both of them make is so important. This is about combating extremism and hate and antisemitism. This is about making sure that our churches and our synagogues and our mosques are safe and that religious institution and freedom, which is so deep at the heart of who we are, is safe. And I am very proud of the fact that we have all worked together to fight for these resources and that we have wonderful law enforcement who are protecting us on the frontlines. But we know that without this extra support these things can’t happen, they’re expensive. And we shouldn’t need them but we know in the time we’re living in now we do need them to keep our children and our families and our communities safe and ensure that they are able to practice the religion that they choose.
This whole program is about fighting against antisemitism and hate and white supremacy and lone wolf terror. It is about protecting against anyone who seeks to harm our families.
Additionally, beyond the grant announcement today, to ensure full protection for high risk organizations, I’ve fought for and helped pass increased investment in the Non-Profit Security Grant Program — including a 50 percent increase from previous levels.
I’ve also been fighting to combat these threats elsewhere — as a member of the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism. I cosponsored the bipartisan National Opposition to Hate, Assault, and Threats to Equality Act, or NO HATE Act, to strengthen federal laws that combat hate speech, threats, and attacks and improve national hate crime reporting.
I was also proud to support the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which was in response to the nearly 150 percent rise in Anti-Asian hate in 2020. Which I am sure people have seen and read about. President Biden signed this bill into law earlier this year and it will make the reporting of hate crimes more accessible at the local and state levels.
I’m proud to fight for these pieces of legislation and grants that will ensure our federal tax dollars are coming back here to Jersey to protect our most fundamental freedoms and to defend communities of faith from threats of violence and acts of lone-wolf terrorism.
There is no reason why standing up to hate, standing up to antisemitism, standing up to targeting of any of our communities, is partisan. This is about coming together as a country as a district to make it clear that there is no place for hate in Northern New Jersey or anywhere in our country.
It’s what our community needs and deserves. I know that if we continue to work together, and stand up for our values and beliefs, here in the greatest country in the world, our best days will always be ahead of us.
God bless you and may God continue to bless the United States of America.