IMPACT-Oct. 27 Attack
By Jeff Finkelstein |
I have taken some time over the last few weeks to reflect back on how much has happened in the last two years since the attack at the Tree of Life Building but especially on the leadership and investment made by our Federation in the area of security. You will recall that our Federation Board took the step of hiring our first ever Jewish Community Security Director in January 2017 and we know that his work had been so important in not only saving lives on October 27, 2018 but in protecting all of us from the inception of our security program. Since October 2018, we have continued to build upon the foundation we set.
Recently, our Security Director, Shawn Brokos, with our Security Committee chaired by David Ainsman, took the lead in procuring and providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to any Jewish organization requiring it at no cost to any Jewish institution. To us, safety includes keeping people healthy.
Due to the incredible generosity of a private foundation, we are close to completing installation and activation of a system called BluePoint in 15 of our Jewish institutions. Bluepoint is a state of the art alert system that not only connects to our local law enforcement, it also connects all the Jewish institutions with each other. If something might happen at one organization, all will know about it. This investment of nearly $750,000 comes at no initial cost to any local synagogue or agency and Federation security will manage the platform going forward. We have installed it in our Jewish Day Schools and Early Childhood Centers.
We assembled and distributed 500 “Go Bags” for every classroom in the Jewish community within synagogues and agencies. These bags contain nearly everything one would need in case of any kind of emergency whether it be medical or security related. This came at no cost to any local organization.
We are trying not only to keep our community safe, but also trying to help everyone to feel safe. Feeling safe is just as important so that all will continue to engage in Jewish life. We have been saying since the start of our security initiative that our goal is to make the community both safe and open. None of this would happen without the convening power of our Federation. These and other capital investments, government dollars we successfully lobbied for, and security personnel hired by Federation on behalf of the Jewish community has resulted in approximately $2 million in investments since October 27, 2018.
We wish we didn’t need to spend a penny on security. We would much prefer putting those dollars into programming, education or support for those in need, but unfortunately this is our reality and we will always take the safety of our community members as a high priority.
Thank you for helping us keep our community safe. Shabbat Shalom. Go Steelers. Wear that mask!
P.S. If you are interested, the Secure Community Network conducted a webinar entitled “Two Years After the Pittsburgh Attack: The Evolution and Future of Securing the Jewish Community” that includes our former Security Director Brad Orsini, Rabbi Jeffrey Myers and me.
Donors to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh will enable a record $36.8 million in allocations and grants to human services and community-building programs in 2019–20. The amount includes funds donated in response to the anti-Semitic attack of Oct. 27, 2018. The allocations, announced by the Federation’s Board of Directors, will support recovery efforts from the attack as well as human services and programs connecting people to Jewish life in Pittsburgh and in Jewish communities around the world.
Funds included in this year’s Jewish Federation distributions include the Fund for Victims of Terror (already fully distributed); funds for community resiliency and security; and funds that donors designated for mental health, memorialization and education. The distributions also derive from sources typical to past years: the Federation’s Community Campaign and Jewish Community Foundation, supplemental donor gifts, government funds secured with Jewish Federation assistance and a $900,000 human services block grant from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.
“The outpouring of support from people from around the world helped the Jewish community to begin the healing process after last year’s attack. If not for the Jewish Federation, however, we would not have been able to organize so quickly to respond. The Community Campaign plays a critical role in leading this kind of community response year after year.”Linda Joshowitz, Chair of the Jewish Federation’s Community Campaign
Allocation decisions are the result of a year-long planning process that engages volunteers and professionals with diverse expertise, backgrounds and affiliations. This year, those volunteers included civic leaders responsible for the Victims of Terror Fund and volunteers on the Jewish Federation’s Community Security Committee, which recommended security funding distribution that the Federation’s Board of Directors approved.
“This past year has been extraordinary in so many ways. We will be able to give the most funding in the history of the Jewish Federation, but we also have more community needs than ever because of the attack on three Pittsburgh congregations.”Meryl Ainsman, Chair of the Jewish Federation’s Board of Directors
Total resources from all sources of support reached just short of $43.0 million, including the $6.3 million from the Victims of Terror Fund and $2.53 million in other funds that donors designated for community resiliency and Jewish community security.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh multiplies the impact of private giving by leveraging corporate and government dollars. The government dollars not included in the $36.8 million that the Jewish Federation allocated will enable a $15.4 million renovation at The New Riverview, a senior community; the Federation helped to secure and guarantee tax-credit funding for this renovation. Also not included in the $36.8 million total is money expected from the Victims of Crime Act of 1968 (VOCA) and the Antiterrorism and Emergency Assistance Program (AEAP) from the U.S. government’s Office for Victims of Crime. The Jewish Federation helped to apply for funding from these sources.
The Jewish Federation’s eight main beneficiary agencies will receive a less than 1% reduction in funding from the Community Campaign. Pittsburgh’s three Jewish day schools—Community Day School, Hillel Academy and Yeshiva Schools—will receive an additional $5.3 million for scholarships from the Federation’s fundraising through Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program. This $5.3 million is the Federation’s second-highest year ever for EITC fundraising.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s eight local beneficiary agencies are:
- The Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh
- Community Day School
- Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
- Jewish Association on Aging (which includes The New Riverview, formerly Riverview Towers)
- Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh
- Jewish Family and Community Services
- Jewish Residential Services
- Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh