Security in places of worship

Local News

It’s been one month since the shooting at the tree of life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest at a Jewish site in this country.

Local places of worship and politicians on the state level are trying to figure out how to keep religious congregations safe, both through funding and taking more extreme precautions.

It’s Friday night at Penn State. 
Students with the Jewish group, Hillel, are celebrating the Sabbath, or Shabbat.
 
Aaron Kaufman is the Executive Director for the Hillel foundation at Penn State.
He says they want to continue that worship peacefully but many places of worship exist on “shoe string budgets”.  He says expensive security measures can be hard.

“I think it’s very important for any efforts that are available for places of worship to find the funding they need to become a safer place for their communities,” Kaufman, said.
 
Senator Bob Casey is asking for 50 million dollars in grant money from the urban areas security initiative program. 
 
That money could be spent on security precautions for religious groups in bigger cities like Pittsburgh.
And in smaller cities like State College, religious groups could receive money from a pool of 10 million dollars, from the state homeland security grant program.

Rabbi David Ostrich, from Congregation Brit Shalom in State College, says security at places of worship is complex. 

“There’s a hundred different factors for security, and I really wonder how much this or any other federal grant can really make houses of worship completely secure,” Rabbi, Ostrich, said.  “I don’t think it will, so I think it’s a nice gesture, but I don’t think it’s going to be the solution.”
 
He says his synagogue has been working with State College police even before the shootings in Pittsburgh, about which security options would be best for his synagogue.
 
“Armed guards, to non-armed guards to changing locks, to tinting windows.”
 
As for when Senator’s Casey’s security grant request is approved or not, there’s no word yet on when congress will decide.
 

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