Temple Sinai in Oakland. (Photo/Wikimedia Commons-Jayjg)
Temple Sinai in Oakland. (Photo/Wikimedia Commons-Jayjg)

Bay Area Jewish orgs awarded $1 million in federal security grants

The federal government has awarded seven Bay Area Jewish organizations a total of $1 million in grants to beef up security measures.

Local Jewish awardees are the Chabads of the East Bay and Solano County, Temple Sinai in Oakland, Congregation Beth Israel Judea in San Francisco, Congregation B’nai Shalom in Walnut Creek, Palo Alto’s Kehillah Jewish High School, and the Russian-Speaking Jewish Community of San Francisco Bay Area. Each received between $131,000 and $150,000, the maximum granted.

The federal grants are administered by the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services and are meant to increase the security of nonprofit organizations at “high risk of a terrorist attack.”

Total U.S. funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program doubled in 2021 to $180 million. In recent years, Jewish institutions have had to shift their budgets toward hiring armed security guards and hardening their buildings against attacks after shootings at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and the Chabad of Poway.

Rabbi Shimon Margolin
Rabbi Shimon Margolin

Rabbi Shimon Margolin, who heads the Russian-speaking Jewish Community of SF Bay Area, a nonprofit umbrella organization, said the grant of $143,209 will be used to pay for a slew of security upgrades, including installing video cameras, building a panic room, and paying for a security guard  for their community center.

He said the issue of security for San Francisco’s Russian Jews is especially sensitive after they came to the United States seeking refuge from antisemitism.

“The reason we filed a refugee application and came to this country is that we thought this is the country that you won’t have to secure institutions for antisemitism and attacks,” said Margolin.

For Margolin, the grant, which was awarded in mid-September, comes as his community is in the midst of a heated debate over whether to identify their recently purchased Richmond District building as Jewish.

“It’s unimaginable that we have to come to America, and we have to hide that we are Jewish,” said Margolin. He believes the Jewish community must secure itself “physically and spiritually” but “never shy away.”

Eliyahu Kamisher

Eliyahu Kamisher is a freelancer and J. contributor who has written for SFGATE, Los Angeles Magazine and The Appeal. He previously covered police and criminal justice for The Jerusalem Post.