Each Synagogue Will Receive $25,000 to Upgrade Existing Security Systems

Governor Sends Letter to Congress Requesting Additional Homeland Security Funding For Other Not-for-Profits Including Synagogues

Governor David A. Paterson today announced that Riverdale Temple and Riverdale Jewish Center will each receive a $25,000 grant to upgrade their security systems. The New York State Office of Homeland Security (OHS) will work with these synagogues to craft and submit a security plan to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In addition, Governor Paterson sent a letter to Congress, requesting an increase in homeland security funding for not-for-profits, including synagogues.

The Governor thanked Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano for expediting the funding request from the Governor’s office to allocate fiscal year 2007 federal Urban Area Security Initiative Nonprofit Security Grant Program (UASI NSGP) funds to the two facilities. He also applauded the FBI, NYPD and OHS for meeting with community members at the two Riverdale Synagogues immediately after the plot was foiled to inform them first hand of the events which had transpired. It was at that meeting, within an hour of the arrests of the accused terrorists, that the need for enhanced security at the two facilities surfaced.

“These two congregations stand for the best of our nation’s values – tolerance, liberty and peace. All New Yorkers of every faith should feel safe in their religious sanctuaries,” said Governor Paterson. “In New York, we must maintain a special vigilance. We know firsthand the ravages of terror and we must continue to be proactive about fighting terrorism at the state level. We also know that our State stands as a beacon to freedom-loving people everywhere and we must continue to do whatever it takes to protect our values and the New Yorkers who stand for them.”

Governor Paterson sent the attached letter to both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees urging them to increase funding for the UASI NSGP for fiscal year 2010.

“Last week’s foiled terror attack on these two nonprofit organizations located in the New York urban area demonstrates the heightened risk to nonprofits and the need for additional assistance. Increased funding under the UASI NSGP program would provide vital monies to enable nonprofits targeted because of their symbolic value to implement security measures to mitigate the risk of terrorism,” added Paterson. “I urge Congress to increase UASI NSGP above the $15 million the President’s budget proposes for the program.”

“As I have said from day one, DHS will partner with state and local governments and law enforcement to combat terrorism. We will be aggressive, nimble and flexible as we have demonstrated with this action,” said Secretary Napolitano. “I commend the FBI and our New York law enforcement partners for excellent work in foiling this plot. DHS will continue to do everything possible to ensure that New York and New Yorkers are supported in the effort to combat terrorism.”

U.S. Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand said: “The NYPD and the FBI did an outstanding job working together to foil this plot and keep our city and State safe. I know I speak for all New Yorkers, when I thank them for their work over the past year of the investigation. But this plot is a stark reminder that religious institutions must remain vigilant and need sufficient resources to keep them safe from the threat of a terrorist attack. Federal, state and local leaders must all work together to marshal the necessary resources to keep us all safe and combat hate. I look forward to working with Governor Paterson and all of my colleagues in Washington to deliver increased funding to safeguard our synagogues and other community and religious institutions.”

Congressman Eliot Engel said: “I want to thank Governor Paterson for his quick action in securing funds to help protect the synagogues which were recently threatened by terrorist attack. This money from the Department of Homeland Security will be used to purchase technology, including cameras for surveillance, to better protect these buildings and the individuals using them. I have reached out to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urging that funds be made available directly to local institutions or through the State for this important purpose.”

Senate Majority Leader Malcolm A. Smith said: “Freedom to worship is a fundamental right that should never be put in jeopardy. Any threat to that basic right is a threat to us all and must never be tolerated. Our commitment to ensuring the safety for all houses of worship is absolute and I applaud Governor Paterson for securing the funding that will help us continue to meet that commitment and maintain the sanctity of our religious freedom.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said: “The threat against two synagogues in Riverdale reinforces to us that it is absolutely essential to maintain the safety and security of all religious institutions in our city and state, and these grants will help to ensure that all New Yorkers can attend their chosen place of worship without fear. I want to thank Governor Paterson, our Congressional Delegation and the Department of Homeland Security for their work to keep New Yorkers safe.”

Senator Eric T. Schneiderman said: “Here is another example of smart, responsive coordination between state and federal agencies to protect our religious institutions from homeland security threats. I applaud Governor Paterson for taking swift and decisive action to secure funding for security improvements for the Riverdale Temple and Riverdale Jewish Center. This funding will provide critical security system upgrades necessary for New Yorkers to feel safe again in their synagogues.”

Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said: “Our community was the target of a heinous plot of four individuals whose goal was to kill as many Jewish people as they could. The Riverdale Jewish Center, on the very block where I live, and Riverdale Temple, of which my family and I are members, were both saved thanks to the incredible work of the NYPD, the FBI, Homeland Security, the Joint Terrorism Task Force and the entire law enforcement community. Governor Paterson reacted quickly and decisively. I very much appreciate the fact that the Governor has returned to Riverdale and responded to our request by providing much-needed funding to support our efforts to protect the people of our community. We must remain strong and vigilant, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Governor in every way possible to keep Riverdale and every community safe from terrorists.”

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. said: “The hard work of the FBI and the NYPD helped us to avoid a major catastrophe at these two synagogues, but we must remain vigilant against potential attacks in the future. This critical funding will help both the Riverdale Jewish Center and the Riverdale Temple increase their security to be prepared should a once unthinkable ugliness rear its head again. An attack on one house of worship is an attack on all houses of worship, and I join all Bronxites in thanking Governor Paterson for making these funds available.”

Click here to view Ruben Diaz, Jr. speak at Riverdale press conference.