Senator seeks money to help protect houses of worship

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Here in Rochester, there are some major security concerns at houses of worship.

NBC News is reporting that pro-Hamas extremists are using social media platforms to call for attacks on Jewish communities around the world. Al Qaeda going as far to say, “attack them at home, work, or where they gather.”

Now U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is seeking federal money to help protect these religious institutions.

“So, let me be clear. There is no excuse for violence or hate against any group based on their religion or ethnicity,” said Gillibrand.

The FBI says hate crimes are on the rise and houses of worship, and other gathering places, are at a high risk for a terrorist attack. Senator Gillibrand says she is pushing for money from appropriation committees to help protect synagogues, mosques, and other religious institutions.

“I’m calling for funding for Non-Profit Security Grant Program to be increased to $500 million in the fiscal year 2024 government funding bills. No one is safe until everyone is safe.” said Gillibrand.

If approved, religious leaders can apply for up to $150,000 in grant money to bolster their security. The grant program is run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Temple B’rith Kodesh Rabbi Peter Stein welcomes the news.

“It’s a recognition of the public reality that there are dangers. We need to have protection. And I think it’s very appropriate for there to be support for it in this way,” said Rabbi Stein.

He goes on to say the Temple works closely with a security advisor through the Jewish Federation and Securities Network. Security during these trying times is their top priority.

“How can we enhance it? How can we make it most effective? And we would certainly get that expert advice to decide where the needs were to enhance and improve what we’re doing,” said Stein.

The Islamic Culture Center of Rochester on Culver Road is also well protected. Dr. Tabassam Javed says grant money for protective services will go a long way.

“It certainly will go in terms of a live person or personnel, you know, who would be there available on a daily basis, you know, and during some crucial times. Obviously, we will not be spending money on 24-hour coverage that would be redundant based on the things that we have,” said Dr. Javed.

Once again if approved the $500 million would be made available during the 2024 fiscal year.