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Religious organizations in CT celebrate new federal funding for security measures

“Hate crimes have been on the rise across this country targeting minority groups of every background,” David Waren said. “The Jewish community, the Muslim community, the LGBTQ community, the Hindu and Sikh communities, have all been targeted. Black churches have been targeted throughout the South.”
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
“Hate crimes have been on the rise across this country targeting minority groups of every background,” David Waren said. “The Jewish community, the Muslim community, the LGBTQ community, the Hindu and Sikh communities, have all been targeted. Black churches have been targeted throughout the South.”

David Waren says the potential for an attack on Jewish groups and organizations in Connecticut keeps him up at night.

“We’ve seen assaults and we’ve seen deaths” around the country, said Waren, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. “The Jewish community is resolute, is resilient, but is very concerned day-to-day.”

Waren appeared Monday alongside Sen. Richard Blumenthal and other community leaders at a press conference to celebrate $400 million in additional federal funding for security upgrades at houses of worship and religious nonprofits across the U.S.

“Doors, bulletproof windows, cameras, locks all can be important in stopping hate from entering and infiltrating,” Blumenthal said, “but we’re also here to provide money for police protection and law enforcement that directly deters these kinds of incidents by a show of force.”

Blumenthal and others cited rising antisemitism, Islamophobia and other hate crimes as the reason why more funding is needed.

“Hate crimes have been on the rise across this country targeting minority groups of every background,” Waren said. “The Jewish community, the Muslim community, the LGBTQ community, the Hindu and Sikh communities, have all been targeted. Black churches have been targeted throughout the South.”

Rabbi Tuvia Brander of Young Israel of West Hartford said threats and attacks are “front and center on our minds.”

“Every Jew in the pew – this is something they think about before they come to synagogue,” Brander said.

“We had a community carnival just a few months ago,” Brander said. “While it was a beautiful gathering that brought different people from across society, it required a SWAT team to protect our community’s gathering, to ensure our kids could jump in a bounce house in safety and security. Our community can not afford to provide those services alone.”

Blumenthal said the money was approved as part of a supplemental security package passed last month in Congress, which also included aid for Ukraine and Israel. It follows an existing allocation of $274 million this fiscal year, of which $3.2 million went to organizations in Connecticut, he said.

Organizations interested in applying for a grant through the program can do so via the Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Chris Polansky joined Connecticut Public in March 2023 as a general assignment and breaking news reporter based in Hartford. Previously, he’s worked at Utah Public Radio in Logan, Utah, as a general assignment reporter; Lehigh Valley Public Media in Bethlehem, Pa., as an anchor and producer for All Things Considered; and at Public Radio Tulsa in Tulsa, Okla., where he both reported and hosted Morning Edition.