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NY lawmakers want $90M in security funds to protect religious schools as hate crimes rise amid Gaza war

Lawmakers are proposing to double security funding to religious schools in the state budget from $45 million to $90 million to combat hate crimes amid the Israel-Hamas war.
Lawmakers are proposing to double security funding to religious schools in the state budget from $45 million to $90 million to combat hate crimes amid the Israel-Hamas war.

New York state lawmakers are pushing for $90 million in funding for religious schools to combat hate crimes amid the Israel-Hamas war.

The doubling up of security funds, from $45 million, in the state budget is a top priority of the Teach Coalition/Teach NYS, an advocacy group of the Orthodox Jewish Union and other non-public schools.

“With threats on the rise at our religious institutions, we must do more to keep children safe and secure as they learn. Doubling security funding for schools will give parents confidence that New York is stepping up for their families,” said state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris (D-Queens).

New York state lawmakers are pushing for $90 million in funding for religious schools to combat hate crimes amid the Israel-Hamas war. Getty Images
New York state lawmakers are pushing for $90 million in funding for religious schools to combat hate crimes amid the Israel-Hamas war. Getty Images
NYPD officers take security measures in front of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral the morning after a man was arrested after trying to enter the Cathedral with gas cans in 2019. Getty Images
NYPD officers take security measures in front of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral the morning after a man was arrested after trying to enter the Cathedral with gas cans in 2019. Getty Images

Both the state Senate and Assembly are expected to include the increased funding in their budget bills to be passed later this week, a precursor to negotiating a final spending plan that must be approved by Gov. Kathy Hochul. The 2024-25 budget is due April 1.

Teach NYS’s campaign — Project Protect — sent  17,000 letters, many written by students, urging Hochul and lawmakers to double funding.

“This is awesome,” said Maury Litwack, executive director of the Teach Coalition. “No child should be worried about going to school.”

Litwack emphasized that the lobbying effort encompasses a broad interfaith coalition that includes parents, children and educators from Islamic and Christian schools, as well as Yeshivas.

“People of all faiths have come together. It’s something that New Yorkers should be proud of,” he said.

The funding is typically used to hire security and install video surveillance.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, there’s been concern about students being harassed or assaulted while coming or leaving school because many of them wear religious garb such as yarmulkes and hijabs.

Teach NYS’s campaign — Project Protect — sent 17,000 letters, many written by students, urging Hochul and lawmakers to double funding. Getty Images
Teach NYS’s campaign — Project Protect — sent 17,000 letters, many written by students, urging Hochul and lawmakers to double funding. Getty Images

One Islamic school reported that a bigot ripped the hijab off the head of a female student, Litwack said.

Another on Manhattan’s Upper East Side makes their boys cover their yarmulkes with baseball hats before going to Central Park for recess.

When it was first created in 2013, the Nonpublic School Security Equipment (NPSE) grant  was funded at $4.5 million per year and covered only security equipment costs.

In 2016, funding increased to $15 million and added security guards as an eligible expense, and in 2022 it tripled it to $45 million.

“It is imperative that New York State use every available resource to ensure the safety of our Jewish, Muslim and other communities,” Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi said in a newsletter just mailed to his constituents about doubling the funding.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, there’s been concern about students being harassed or assaulted while coming or leaving school. Seth Gottfried
Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, there’s been concern about students being harassed or assaulted while coming or leaving school. Seth Gottfried

New York City saw a whopping 214% surge in anti-Jewish incidents in October of last year amid the Israel-Hamas war which began when the terrorist group launched a surprise attack on the Jewish state.

Incidents included attacks on Jews heading home from synagogue.

Antisemitic property crimes have also skyrocketed.