BOSTON – The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston has commended the Massachusetts State Senate for unanimously supporting the amendment to increase the state Non Profit Security Grant program from $150,000 to $500,000 for the upcoming fiscal year.
The JCRC specifically thanked lead sponsor Sen. Eric Lesser of Longmeadow, Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem of Newton, Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler of Worcester, and Senate President Karen Spilka of Ashland.
This funding will cover 10 grants across the Commonwealth for vital security enhancements and protocols at houses of worship, community centers, and other institutions at heightened risk of violence.
“Unfortunately, we have seen a troubling rise in hate crimes across Massachusetts,” said Sen. Lesser. “These incidents are meant to intimidate some people in our communities, and they tear at the fabric of who we are as a country based on the equal right of everyone to participate in our democracy. With these security grants for synagogues, mosques, community centers and other organizations, we have made clear that hate has no place in our Commonwealth.”
“Anti-Semitism, islamophobia, bigotry and violence have no place in our society. We must continue to fight for and defend our freedom to worship and live openly and free. It pains me that our world still suffers from xenophobic acts of violence and hatred. But I am proud that the Senate stood up in unanimous support for security grants for nonprofits, because nobody should ever fear for their safety,” said Senate President Emerita Harriette L. Chandler.
Earlier this month, JCRC organized a letter, signed by close to 150 Jewish institutional leaders from across the Commonwealth, to Governor Baker and state leaders asking for increased funding for this vital initiative.
“Not only do we applaud the unanimous support from the Massachusetts Senate, we added our support to the effort and were one of the communities signing the letter of support,” said Stewart Bromberg, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Western Mass. “Our application for the Homeland Security Grant included a letter of support from Senator Lessor’s office for our efforts to receive grant funds to be distributed throughout the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts service area, including Hampton, Hampshire, and Franklin counties in Massachusetts and the communities we also serve in Northern Connecticut.”
“We congratulate our partners in the State Senate for unequivocally endorsing the right for all people to gather in safety,” said Aaron Agulnek, director of government affairs for the JCRC of Greater Boston. “Houses of worship, community centers, and other institutions must be safe, secure and open. This funding is a strong step towards that goal, but we must do more to challenge the motivation for all forms of hatred. Education and respect, not fortification, is our ultimate hope.”
The Senate also unanimously adopted Minority Leader Bruce Tarr’s amendment to codify the Governor’s Hate Crimes Task Force into law. JCRC partnered with Governor Charlie Baker, the Anti-Defamation League, CJP, and Jewish federations and agencies across the state in 2017 to reestablish this vital task force after it remained dormant for several years.
The Senate budget will now go to a conference committee to be reconciled with the House budget, before a conference committee budget is sent to the Governor.