County Awards $200,000 in Security Grants to Faith-based Groups

County Awards $200,000 in Security Grants to Faith-based Groups

Half of the money will go to Jewish institutions

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Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School in Rockville

File photo

Montgomery County is awarding $200,000 in grants to help houses of worship increase security.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, a Rockville-based nonprofit that provides funds to many of the county’s Jewish institutions such as day schools, synagogues and community service programs, is receiving $100,000, according to the list of recipients released Friday.

Four Muslim organizations are receiving a combined $80,000.

“The Jewish community is the No.1 target of religious-based hate crimes in the United States,” said Ron Halber, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, the advocacy organization within the federation.

Halber said the federation will spread the funding to the institutions in the county that include synagogues, day schools and the Jewish Community Center in Rockville.
Institutions will submit applications to the federation, he said, which will then evaluate how to allocate the funds.

Halber said the grant from the county is a fraction of what he said is a much larger amount needed to protect houses of worship in Montgomery County, particularly in the wake of national tragedies, such as a shooting last fall at a Pittsburgh synagogue that killed 11, and a number of religious bias incidents that have occurred in Montgomery schools.

According to Montgomery County Police, there were 93 bias incidents reported in 2018, which was down from 123 in 2017.

“It’s important that people realize that this is the beginning of a conversation. We really do need millions and millions more provided by the county, state and federal government,” Halber said.
The County Council approved the grant funds in November and money will be available after the council signs contracts with the institutions.

Among the recipients were:
-The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, which received $100,000
-The Islamic Community Center of Potomac, which received $20,000
-The Islamic Education Center in Potomac, which received $20,000
-The Islamic Society of the Washington area in Silver Spring, which received $20,000
-The Muslim Community Center in Silver Spring, which received $20,000
-Reid Temple AME Church in White Oak, which received $4,750
-Guru Nanak Foundation of America in Silver Spring, which received $4,750
-Takoma Park Seventh-day Adventist Church, which received $4,500
-Allen Chapel AME Church in Silver Spring, which received $2,000
-Clinton AME Zion Church in Rockville, which received $2,000
– International Society for Krishna Consciousness ISKCON of DC, in Potomac, which received $1,000
-Olive Branch Community Church in Silver Spring, which received $1,000

The grant awards announcements came one week after 50 people were killed by a gunman at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The attacks promoted Montgomery County Police to setp up patrols outside county houses of worship.

Applications for grants were reviewed by a panel that assessed each institution’s threat level, and County Executive Marc Elrich prioritized funding based on the groups that were most at-risk.

According to the FBI’s 2017 hate crime statistics, there were more than 1,600 hate crimes motivated by religious bias nationally, and 58 percent were against Jews.
Dan Schere can be reached at Daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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