Three Teaneck synagogues were among thirteen North Jersey non-profit groups awarded thousands in federal grant money to upgrade their security, Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. announced.
Pascrell had urged Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to maintain funding for the federal Non-Profit Security Grant Program after some state and local assistance saw a more than 40 percent cut.
“One important way we can improve our nation’s homeland security is supporting hometown security. Ensuring that the Non-Profit Security Grant Program continues to exist is a high priority for me and I am pleased to see it deliver for so many local synagogues and community organizations,” the congressman said in a statement.
In Teaneck, Congregation Beth Sholom, Congregation Keter Torah/Northern Teaneck Synagogue Association and Congregation Shaare Tefillah all received the maximum grant award of $75,000.
Eric Orgen, a member of the security committee at Shaare Tefillah who helped author the grant application, said the last winter in Bergen County had heightened security concerns. Two of the synagogues receiving funds, and Hackensack, were targeted in the spree.
“The one thing that I’ve learned in my life is that you always have to remain vigilant and proactive so that’s what we’re going to continue to do,” Orgen said.
As part of the process, the congregation underwent an extensive security review by the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office. Bill Stallone, the Prosecutor’s Office Critical Infrastructure Coordinator, developed a range of security enhancements for the property.
“A lot of those recommendations are going to be implemented and this grant is going to help pay for those upgrades,” Orgen said. He declined to detail all the upgrades, citing security.
Basic security cameras helped link accused synagogue firebomber Anthony Graziano to , authorities have said. Still, some of the recommendations delivered in Teaneck were less expected.
“There are some things that we wouldn’t think about,” Orgen said. “It’s not just alarms and cameras anymore.”
The next steps will be for congregation representatives to meet with the prosecutor’s office, a private security consultant and Teaneck police.
Orgen praised the and said Chief Robert Wilson and Investigations Division Commander Capt. Glenn O'Reilly are always receptive to issues from area houses of worship.
“We’re pretty satisfied that we’re going to be safe and this will just help us be safer,” he said of the upgrades.
Nationwide, $10 million in grants were made available, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Priority was given to non-profits believed to face a higher threat because of their ideology, beliefs and mission.
A full list of grant amounts for New Jersey organizations is attached to this article in PDF format.