A New York state assemblyman is seeking to expand state security grants for religious institutions to sleepaway camps.
Following several anti-Semitic incidents and a wave of threats against Jewish institutions nationally in 2017, the state legislature passed, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law, the Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Grant Program. This grant provides $25 million for security at private schools, day-care centers, and cultural museums at risk of hate-crime attacks. Each eligible institution may receive up to $50,000 for safety measures including surveillance cameras, perimeter lighting, alarm systems and fencing.
The $25 million grant has been reauthorized in the Fiscal 2020 budget.
Eichenstein’s camp-expansion provision was included in the Assembly’s proposed 2020 budget, and he is asking Cuomo to include it in the executive budget as well. Eichenstein said he believes that there are sufficient funds to cover the sleepaway camps without jeopardizing funding for currently eligible institutions, by using a portion of the $25 million allocated for 2020 plus leftover funding from previous grants that have not yet been fully awarded.
Many of the residents of Eichenstein’s heavily Orthodox Jewish Brooklyn district spend summers in sleepaway camps upstate. Several camp directors approached him shortly after he was sworn into office in January, expressing their concerns about security.
“Our children deserve to feel safe and secure all year round no matter where they are,” said Eichenstein. “We are confident that the Governor will consider this a wise and worthwhile expansion of an outstanding program.”