WEST CHESTER (March 23, 2021) – Chabad Lubavitch of Chester County, a community synagogue and nonprofit organization in Tredyffrin Township, will receive $24,500 in state grant funding to support important safety and security upgrades, state Senator Carolyn Comitta said.
The funds, which come through the Pennsylvania Nonprofit Security Grant Program, were recently approved by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).
Chabad Lubavitch Rabbi Yossi Kaplan said he is working with Tredyffrin Township Police Chief T. Michael Beatty on ways to utilize the funds to enhance security at the synagogue and Jewish center.
“Unfortunately, antisemitism is not something that is in the past,” Kaplan said. “But it’s important that people are safe and feel comfortable here. We are thankful for the funds and appreciate the assistance of our police department in improving safety at our center.”
The grant program, now in its second year, was established by the legislature in Act 83 of 2019 in response to the 2018 attack on the Jewish community at the Tree of Life, New Light, and Dor Hadash congregations in Pittsburgh. It was funded with a $5 million state budget appropriation.
Comitta, then a state representative, voted for legislation (House Bill 859) that established the program.
“Hate-based threats, intimidation, and violence will not be tolerated. Our friends and neighbors all deserve to practice their faith in peace,” Comitta said. “Religious liberty and diversity make us stronger as a community. In fact, many local religious organizations, like Chabad, not only offer opportunities for worship, but they also give back through nonprofit initiatives and other outreach efforts.”
The Nonprofit Security Grant Program supports nonprofit organizations that principally serve individuals, groups or institutions that are included within a bias motivation category for single bias hate crime incidents as identified by the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistic Publication. Those hate crime incidents include race/ethnicity/ancestry; religion; sexual orientation; disability, gender, and gender identity.
Eligible projects include a variety of measures to enhance security ranging from equipment and technology upgrades to planning, threat awareness, and response training
PCCD selected awardees in consultation with the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and the Pennsylvania State Police.
On October 27, 2018, 11 people were killed and seven (including three police officers and the suspect) were injured in a mass shooting during Shabbat morning services at the Tree of Life Congregation building, which also served as home to the New Light, and Dor Hadash congregations, in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Robert Gregory Bowers was arrested and is currently in custody facing state and federal capital murder charges. According to police, after his arrest, he told them that his motivation for the attack was antisemitism.
The shooting followed similar hate-based attacks that have injured and killed worshipers at churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, and other houses of worship across the nation.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, it is believed to be the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the history of the United States.