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Pa. awards Lehigh Valley religious organizations, nonprofit groups security funding

Brian Myszkowski
Hundreds gathered for solidarity in October during a vigil for Israel at the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley in Allentown.

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency has awarded nearly $1 million in safety and security grants throughout the Lehigh Valley, including more than $600,000 to nonprofit and religious groups.

Several of the organizations are local Jewish schools and synagogues, which have been the recent target of bomb threats.

State lawmakers passed an annual $5 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant program after the 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. Funding uses can include safety planning, buying security equipment, training initiatives, threat recognition and response, and upgrades to existing facilities and structures.

“Investing in public safety is a crucial component to keeping our communities safe and reducing crime.”
State Sen. Nick Miller, D-Lehigh/Northampton

“These awards will provide essential safety and security upgrades to facilities here in the Lehigh Valley,” said state Sen. Nick Miller, D-Lehigh/Northampton. “Investing in public safety is a crucial component to keeping our communities safe and reducing crime.”

The state awarded nearly $260,000 in grants to Congregation Sons of Israel, Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Student Center and Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley, all in Allentown. The application process opened in late August and was extended Oct. 10th to the end of October.

Lehigh Valley Fall 2023 recipients

Recipients included:

  • Allentown Central Catholic High School, $100,000
  • Asbury United Methodist Church, $33,348
  • Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, $100,000
  • Congregation Sons of Israel, $10,685
  • Hindu Temple Society, $75,000
  • Jewish Community Center of Allentown, $75,000
  • Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley, $150,000
  • Jewish Student Center - Allentown Inc., $24,116
  • Promise Neighborhoods of the Lehigh Valley, $25,000
  • Valley Youth House Committee Inc., $25,000

Aaron Gorodzinsky, director of campaign and security planning for the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley, said he’s seen a rise in antisemitism in the Lehigh Valley since the Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7th, sparking war.

“I think there's a significant difference between protesting the actions of the Israeli government, which the Jewish community in the Lehigh Valley has no say in,” Gorodzinsky said. “And in that type of language we have seen and the type of protests that we have seen both locally and at the national level.”

Congregation Keneseth Israel in Allentown received a hoax bomb threat in mid-October and Congregation Sons of Israel was one of several synagogues across Pennsylvania hit with fake bomb threats earlier this month.