Hempstead Town Officials Announce Increased Public Safety Patrols
In time for the Jewish High Holy Days, Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin, Councilman Bruce Blakeman, and Councilman Anthony D’Esposito joined with local rabbis, along with Town Clerk Kate Murray and Receiver Jeanine Driscoll, at the Rock Hall Museum in Lawrence to announce that public- safety patrols will be boosted. The measure is intended to serve as an added presence in communities surrounding synagogues as congregants observe the highest holidays on the Jewish calendar.
In 2019, there were over 2,100 hate crimes against Jewish people, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which was the highest total since the organization began releasing the data over 40 years ago. The decision was not made in response to any specific threat or concern — instead it was created proactively for worshippers across America’s largest township to be able to enjoy the holidays with a better sense of security.
“Times may be different while living in a pandemic, but no matter what the situation is, we can never let our guard down,” Clavin said. “Worshippers are still attending services and visiting family and friends. As America’s largest township, we want to utilize our resources to help provide a semblance of safety and security for residents as they observe the High Holy Days.”
In December 2019 there were over 13 antisemitic incidents reported in the state of New York. Just before being sworn in as supervisor, on December 31, Clavin joined with a group of multi-faith spiritual leaders in the Five Towns to decry the bias attacks and announced that public-safety units would increase where needed. With the Jewish High Holy Days coming up, the Town of Hempstead’s team of public-safety officers, who make routine patrols between town facilities, parks, and properties on a 24-hour basis, will keep extra eyes on the houses of worship during this period.
“Unfortunately, antisemitism is still prevalent in our country and across the world, and we need to always remain vigilant and proactive to protect the community from senseless acts of bias and hate,” Blakeman said. “During this important time of year for the Jewish community, our town’s public-safety officers will provide an additional set of eyes and ears to complement the efforts of law-enforcement officers.”
The Town of Hempstead’s Public Safety Department will be in contact with the Nassau County Police Department and will immediately report any suspicious activity.
“I wish all of our Jewish neighbors a safe and happy holiday season,” D’Esposito said. “But it’s important for us to reiterate that if you see something, say something. Our public-safety officers will be watching houses of worship throughout the High Holy Days and be prepared to report any serious concerns. But we also ask residents to immediately report suspicious activity by calling 9-1-1.”
Several rabbis from the Five Towns community joined with Clavin, Blakeman, and D’Esposito, including Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky of Yeshiva of South Shore, Rabbi Shalom Axelrod of Young Israel of Woodmere, Rabbi Zvi Ralbag of Congregation Bais Ephraim Yitzchok, Rabbi Mordechai Yaffe of Kehillas Ateres Yaakov, and Yehuda Fromowitz, director of security for the Young Israel of Woodmere.
“In an era of high anxiety and fear, whatever the supervisor is doing to help promote calm and the assurance of safety is much appreciated,” said Rabbi Kamenetzky.
“The Town of Hempstead stands in solidarity with the Jewish community, and against the hate, intolerance, and antisemitic acts that we have seen across our nation,” concluded Clavin. “We are committed to providing a safe and secure township in which our residents can have peace of mind as they practice, worship, and celebrate holidays this month and beyond.” n
Meng Secures Increase in Federal Funds for Jewish Facilities to Improve Security
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), a member of the House Appropriations Committee which funds all U.S. government agencies, programs, and projects, announced a record-breaking $180 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, the federal initiative that provides houses of worship and nonprofit entities such as synagogues and Jewish educational institutions with funding to protect their properties against threats and attacks.
The funds were included in the Homeland Security Appropriations bill which is awaiting a vote by the House of Representatives. The grants, which are administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), cover target-hardening and other physical security enhancements such as barriers, gates, safety gear, surveillance equipment, and other safety measures.
Meng obtained the increase in funding following her announcement in July that 16 Jewish facilities throughout her congressional district in Queens received a total of $1.6 million under the program ($100,000 each, the maximum amount allowable).
The boost in the program would apply to fiscal year 2021. Meng has helped to increase funding for the grants over the last several years, including a record $90 million for current fiscal year 2020.
Meng also once again secured $500 million for U.S.–Israel Missile Defense Cooperation. The funding, which passed the House as part of the Defense Appropriations bill, will be used for the United States to continue working with Israel in developing missile defense systems for defending the Jewish state. It consists of the following:
- $73 million for continued co-production and procurement of Iron Dome;
- $127 million for continued development of block upgrades for David’s Sling, which includes extending the system’s range, improving its seeker capabilities, and addressing cruise missile threats;
- $50 million for continued co-production and procurement of David’s Sling system components;
- $77 million for continued co-production and procurement of Arrow-3 system components; and
- $173 million for the continued Arrow System Improvement Program to support completion of upgrades and related enhancements to ensure system survivability, Arrow-2 and Arrow-3 launcher integration, and interoperability with U.S. systems.
The congresswoman also supported and helped pass $3.3 billion in crucial foreign military assistance to Israel which was approved by the House as part of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill.
“From improving the security of synagogues, schools, and other Jewish facilities to ensuring a safe and secure Israel, I am proud to continue delivering funding that is critical to the Jewish community and our ally Israel,” said Meng. “I have and will remain committed to these crucial issues, and will continue working to secure even more funding in the future. I thank my colleagues who supported these provisions, especially my retiring Appropriations Committee Chairwoman and New York colleague Nita Lowey.”