South Shore Jewish houses of worship get more than $90,000 in state money for security

Seven Jewish places of worship on the South Shore were granted more than $90,000 to help improve security.

The money is part of a state program enacted in 2018 to help increase security at non-profits that may be at a higher risk for terrorism or hate crimes. The program this year gave nearly $1 million to 53 houses of worship of different religious beliefs.

“These grants help equip houses of worship with additional tools to keep the faith communities they serve safe,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement.

Temple B’Nai Shalom in Braintree got more than $6,000, Temple Beth David of the South Shore in Canton got more than $23,000 and Congregation Sha’aray Shalom in Hingham got more than $11,000. The Holbrook Jewish Community Center was given $6,000. In Sharon, Congregation Adath Sharon received more than $10,000 and both Temple Sinai of Sharon and Young Israel of Sharon/Striar Hebrew Academy were each given more than $17,000.”It’s sad in this day and age that the government needs to help pay for protection for religious communities,” Cantor Steven Weiss of Congregation Sha’aray Shalom said. “Small congregations like ours don’t have the means to pay for security measures … It’s an incredible gift.”

Weiss said that recent incidents like swastikas painted in Norwell, and anti-Semitic language used by the Duxbury High School football team show that there is still a lot of misunderstanding about Jewish communities and concerns about safety.

He said this is the second year that his congregation received a grant and said they will use this year’s money to help pay for building perimeter security as part of a larger construction project.

Rabbi Amy Goodman, executive director of Temple Sinai, said security measures paid for with the grant help protect her congregation.

“Our goal is that people can come to worship safely and feels secure when they come here,” Goodman said.

Marilyn Whipple, president of Temple Beth David in Canton, said she would use the money to help pay for a “professional-grade security camera system for 24/7 protection.”

“We are a small synagogue,” Whipple said in a statement. “This grant will enable us to install such a system, which we could not have afforded otherwise.

State Sen. Walter Timilty said hopefully the security measures will help members of temples and synagogues feel safer.

“Religious liberty is a fundamental human right. It truly saddens me to hear stories that places of worship are the target of hate crimes,” said Timilty in a statement. “Citizens should be able to worship without fear of harm or death. The Jewish faith communities of Braintree, Canton, Sharon, and South Easton, which I am proud to represent, along with my legislative colleagues, should now experience some peace of mind as a result of these funds.”

Late last year, the FBI reported that in 2019 the U.S. saw the highest rate of hate crimes in more than a decade. There were 7,314 hate crimes reported in 2019, up from 7,120 the year before.

Some of the 2019 increases may be the result of better reporting by police departments, but law enforcement officials and advocacy groups don’t doubt that hate crimes are on the rise. The Justice Department has for years been specifically prioritizing hate crime prosecutions.

The data also shows there was a nearly 7 percent increase in religion-based hate crimes, with 953 reports of crimes targeting Jews and Jewish institutions last year, up from 835 the year before.

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