Costa, Frankel: $1.1 million grant to protect Pittsburgh Jewish faith community
Lawmakers ‘lament’ need for security, but pledge to ensure safety
PITTSBURGH, Dec. 28 – As part of their commitment to protecting Pennsylvanian’s faith-based communities, state Senate Democratic Leader Jay Costa Jr. (D-Allegheny) and state Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) today announced the award of $1.1 million to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh for security enhancements to their physical space
The federation requested the grant after the 2018 attack on the synagogues within the Tree of Life building by an antisemitic gunman. The funding will allow the organization to better protect employees and visitors in an atmosphere of increasing hate crimes against Jews and other vulnerable groups.
"No one should have to worship in fear. Our First Amendment rights protect the freedom to practice any religion we choose - and we should be protected during that practice,” Costa said. “These safety grants are an important step, but we've got more work to do in expanding our hate crimes laws here in Pennsylvania."
Frankel lamented the need to fortify civic organizations and houses of faith, but pledged to continue working to ensure that they get what they need.
“Faith and identity-based organizations cannot do their important work if their employees and volunteers don’t feel safe. They support our communities, and they need us to support them,” Frankel said, noting that the General Assembly has more work to do when it comes to preventing hate crimes.
Costa and Frankel introduced a comprehensive package of bills in 2019 that would broaden hate crimes protections, make incidents easier to report, and investigate and increase penalties for those convicted under the statute. They will reintroduce the package in 2021.