Milwaukee Jewish Federation is increasing security assistance for local synagogues.
The Federation is issuing grants of up to $10,000 per synagogue to pay for professional security guards. Funding can be used for security guards at services for High Holy Days this year, as well as throughout the year at Shabbat, religious school and special events.
The Federation is also raising money for a community-wide security initiative that will be developed in the coming months in consultation with synagogues, Jewish agencies and security professionals, said Miryam Rosenzweig, president and CEO of Milwaukee Jewish Federation.
But the Federation has identified one common and urgent need that cannot wait: assistance with paying for security personnel during the High Holidays, she said. Thus, it offered the $10,000 grants and was arranging details in concert with local synagogues as the Chronicle went to press.
“The mission of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation is to care for the needs of the Jewish people and to build a vibrant Jewish future in Milwaukee, in Israel, and around the world,” Rosenzweig said. “As attacks on houses of worship have increased, it’s become clear that we need to make sure that all area synagogues have access to professional security personnel. It’s also clear the Federation is in a unique position to help.”
Over the last decade, the Federation has been growing its security program, now with more growth on the horizon. The Federation continues to be a central point of contact for Homeland Security and other law enforcement.
The immediate grants are thanks to several generous donors, according to the Federation. The grants are intended for synagogues only in Milwaukee and surrounding areas.
An April 28, 2019 synagogue shooting in Poway, California, and the 2018 synagogue shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, have Jewish leaders across America on a heightened state of alert. Antisemitism incidents are on the rise, according to local and national monitoring agencies.
The local grant program is not in response to a specific threat, but vigilance is always recommended. “If you see something, say something,” said Ari Friedman, director of security and community properties for the Federation. “In addition to maintaining strong focus on situational awareness this additional step enhances our ability to better respond to issues that may arise and further provides a resource for individuals to report suspicious activity.”
If you have questions about the synagogue security grants, contact Friedman at AriF@MilwaukeeJewish.org or 414-390-5740.