Press Release

Following Disturbing Rise In Antisemitism And Hate Crimes, Senators Gillibrand, Peters, Rosen, Murphy Announce Push To Protect Synagogues, Other Religious Institutions 

Oct 19, 2023

Reported Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes Increased By More Than 37 Percent In 2022;

Last Year, The FBI Recorded More Than 11,000 Hate Crime Incidents – The Most Since 1991  

Following a disturbing rise in antisemitism and hate crimes, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Gary Peters (D-MI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) are calling for additional funding to protect synagogues, Jewish community centers, mosques, and other religious or non-profit institutions that are at high risk of terrorist attacks. The senators are requesting that $500 million in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) program be included in the Fiscal Year 2024 Homeland Security Appropriations bill. NSGP provides grant funding to at-risk institutions to strengthen security measures and help make sure everyone can worship without fear. 

Over the last few years, we have seen a steady and disturbing rise in hate crimes across the country and at home in New York,” said Senator Gillibrand. “And as the crisis in the Middle East worsens, we are likely to see threats to Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities grow. I am calling on Congress to provide $500 million in federal funding to make sure that synagogues, mosques, and other at-risk organizations can upgrade security measures and guard against potential terror attacks. Every American has the right to worship freely and without fear. I’m committed to making sure they can.”

Every American has a fundamental right to practice their faith and live in their community safely and peacefully,”said Senator Peters, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I’ve repeatedly fought to increase funding for this critical program to help houses of worship—including synagogues, mosques and gurdwaras—as well as other community nonprofits secure their facilities, particularly as the number of hate crimes in our country continues to rise. As hostilities in the Middle East lead to increased tensions at home, I strongly urge my colleagues to fund the program at $500 million to help keep our communities safe.” 

“At a time when anti-Jewish hate crimes are reaching the highest levels in decades, we must take action to protect Americans from the threat of antisemitism,” said Senator Rosen. “Increased funding for the life-saving Nonprofit Security Grant Program will help ensure synagogues, community centers, and other nonprofits have the resources needed to protect themselves from targeted violence.”

“In the wake of the horrific Hamas terror attacks on Israel, I am deeply concerned about the increased threats against synagogues, mosques, and other religious institutions here at home. The Nonprofit Security Grant Program is a crucial resource for places of worship looking to upgrade their security measures and protect their communities. There is bipartisan support for this program, and as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, I am committed to fighting for a significant increase in federal funding to safeguard against violent extremism and hate,” said Senator Murphy.

Last year, the FBI recorded more than 11,000 hate crime incidents, the most since it started collecting this data in 1991. This includes 1,124 incidents of anti-Jewish hate crime. Since Hamas launched its attack on Israel, there have been reports of growing antisemitism and antisemitic incidents from around the country, and a recent attack on a Palestinian family in Illinois left a 6-year-old boy dead and his mother hospitalized. 

Additional funding for the NSGP would help protect these and other communities. Organizations can use NSGP funds to invest in a variety of security measures, including installing physical target hardening measures like gates and motion lights, conducting preparedness and prevention planning exercises, and contracting security personnel. In Fiscal Year 2023, NSGP distributed $305 million in funding. Nevertheless, not all organizations that applied for funding received it. The senators’ push would help meet the growing demand. 

The full text of the senators’ letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leadership is available here or below: 

Dear Chairwoman Murray, Ranking Member Collins, Chairwoman Granger, and Ranking Member DeLauro,

Thank you for your continued support for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP). Congress appropriated a record $305 million in funding for the NSGP in FY 2023. This funding was a crucial step towards meeting high demand for these critical security measures. However, the Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel and the escalating conflict have elevated concerns of potential security threats to Jewish, Muslim, and Arab communities and houses of worship across the country. As the war escalates, it must be expected that houses of worship and community centers of all faiths will require greater resources to improve their security. Therefore, as you draft the final Fiscal Year 2024 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, we respectfully request you fund the NSGP at no less than $500 million, with $250 million going towards eligible nonprofits in high-risk urban areas and $250 million going to eligible nonprofits outside such areas.

Domestic terrorism and hate crimes targeted at vulnerable communities are at historic highs. Last May, a white supremacist shot 13 and killed 10 in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York. In August 2023, a man wielding a swastika-emblazoned rifle killed three Black people at a Dollar General store in Jacksonville, Florida. Earlier this month, a man in Indiana was indicted for sending violent, antisemitic threats to four offices of the Anti-Defamation League. Hate and extremism continue to pose a threat to minority communities and we should ensure that we are able to provide robust support to our constituencies who are threatened by such violence.

While we are grateful many law enforcement departments around the country are proactively on high alert for hate crimes stemming from Hamas’ assault on Israel, we are already seeing virulent antisemitism at rallies across the country. Additionally, just this past weekend, a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy was tragically killed and his mother stabbed in what has been charged as a hate crime in response to current events in the Middle East. We are concerned that continued tensions may lead to increased hate crimes against the Jewish, Muslim, Arab and other communities. For these reasons, we respectfully urge you to increase funding for the NSGP in your final bill to a total of $500 million.