Colleyville Rabbi to Appeal to Congress for Security Funds – Jewish Exponent

Posted By on February 9, 2022

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker talks to reporters outside of Whites Chapel United Methodist Church following a special service on Jan. 17 in Southlake, Texas. (Emil Lippe/Getty Images via JTA.org)

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who faced down a hostage crisis at his Texas synagogue, will join a Jewish federations movement appeal to Congress to double security funding for nonprofits to $360 million.

Cytron-Walker will join Eric Fingerhut, the CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America, in an appearance Tuesday before the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee.

Cytron-Walkerhas said that a camera system paid for through the federal nonprofit security grant programallowed federal agents to monitor the 11 hour Jan. 15 crisis in Colleyville,which ended when Cytron-Walker threw a chair at the hostage-taker and fled with his congregants, and agents rushed the building, killing the assailant.

Congress doubled funding for the security grant program in late 2020, to $180 million, but faith groups are asking for it to be doubled again.An array of faith groups last month urged President Joe Biden to double the funding,and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat and majority leader, has joined the effort.

Jewish groups, including JFNA, the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel of America, helped craft the legislation that created the fund in the mid-2000 after a number of attacks on Jewish institutions. Jewish groups were for years the main beneficiaries of the grants, which pay for fortifying susceptible institutions and adding security systems, but in recent years other faith groups have asked for funds in light of attacks on mosques, Sikh temples and Black churches.

Separately, Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio and Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire are touting their Pray Safe Act, which would create a clearinghouse to streamline access to security training and nonprofit security grant funding.

In a piece for Fox News online,they cited Cytron-Walkers experience as a spur to move the legislation forward.

No one should fear for their life when they enter a house of worship to reflect and pray, nor should houses of worship have to be locked down to keep their congregants safe, Portman and Hassan said. Yet as the horrific events at Congregation Beth Israel showed us, this is the new normal for far too many faith communities throughout the country.

Cytron-Walkers appearance Tuesday will come the same day that the Senate Foreign Relations Committeewill hold a confirmation hearing for Deborah Lipstadt, Bidens nominee for antisemitism envoy. Her hearing, which had been held up by Republicans who disliked some of her tweets, was scheduled after the Colleyville attack increased pressure on lawmakers.

Lipstadts two invited guests,the Forward has reported, include a cofounder of Cytron Walkers synagogue,Anna Salton Eisen, who is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor.

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Colleyville Rabbi to Appeal to Congress for Security Funds - Jewish Exponent

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