January 19, 2022
The Honorable Tom Wolf
Governor of Pennsylvania
508 Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Dear Governor Wolf:
On behalf of our Pennsylvania Jewish days schools, synagogues, community institutions, their children and families—
We want to thank you for your work to keep Pennsylvania safe, in the face of proliferating acts of hate, and ask you to continue your support of state security funding for Jewish schools, synagogues and institutions in the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 budget.
Last weekend was horrifying for Jews across the globe. While praying on Shabbat, Jews in their Texas synagogue were taken hostage at gunpoint and for nearly 11 hours, we fervently prayed and desperately worried about the fate of innocent people. With gratitude to God, and in amazement at the bravery of the hostages and the keen sense and experience of law enforcement, the victims escaped alive.
We are left with abounding thanks, with questions, and with fear. We know all too well that these victims could have been any of us. Experience has taught that antisemitic rhetoric and threats are not empty. They are real, and our schools, synagogues, and institutions are threatened and scared because of the attacks, massacres, bomb-threats and vandalism targeting Jewish communities. Pennsylvania has tragically, and reprehensibly, witnessed each of these dreadful, real episodes. Our children think about it when they file into school, and both old and young worry about it when walking into synagogue.
We are proud to live in a state like Pennsylvania, where lawmakers have worked to understand this terrifying reality and have supported programs that can be lifesaving. The Safe Schools Targeted Grant Program, administered by PDE, offers competitive grants to nonpublic schools for equipment, school police offers or for programs. Last year, this program was funded at $3.2M for the nonpublic school portion of the grant program. PCCD administers the Nonprofit Security Grant Fund, which offers grants to nonprofits at risk of hate crimes and last year, a total of $5 million dollars was awarded in grants.
Unfortunately, at current funding levels, many Jewish schools and synagogues as well as other vulnerable nonprofits still lack the costly security measures that have been recommended to them by law enforcement and security experts. We, therefore, hope you will consider increasing the Safe Schools allocation for nonpublic schools to $5 million, especially so schools can continue stationing guards. We hope you will consider increasing the PCCD Nonprofit Security Fund to $10 million, so at-risk nonprofits can bolster security at this scary time.
We thank you for understanding the gravity of the situation and the growing need for resources. We look forward to continued dialogue about stemming the spread of hate.
With hopes for peace and safety,
Sam Aboudara Chief Operating Officer, NJY Camps (Wayne and Pike Counties)
Jeff Braverman, Director Camp Nesher (Wayne County)
Avi Baran Munro Head of School, Community Day School (Pittsburgh)
Rabbi Yossi Baumgarten Director, Cheder Menachem (Kingston)
Rabbi Ira Budow Director, Abrams Hebrew Academy (Yardley)
Rabbi Mendy Cohen Director, Chabad’s Family Community, Chabad of the Main Line (Merion)
Rabbi Yaakov Deutscher Executive Director, Kosloff Torah Academy (Bala Cynwyd)
Rabbi Isaac Entin Head of School, Caskey Torah Academy of Greater Philadelphia (Wynnewood)
Yakov Fleischmann Director, Camp Stone (Sugar Grove)
Rabbi Elisha Friedman Kesher Israel Congregation (Harrisburg)
Rabbi Albert Gabbai Rabbi, Congregation Mikveh Israel (Philadelphia)
Alex Gold Executive Director, Camp Dora Golding (East Stroudsburg)
Amy Golding Head of School, Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley (Allentown)
Rabbi Reuven Goldstein Rabbi, Young Israel of Elkins Park (Elkins Park)
Debbie Grad Business Manager, Caskey Torah Academy (Wynnewood)
Judy Groner Head of School, Perelman Jewish Day School (Melrose Park and Wynnewood)
Rabbi Yonah Gross Rabbi, Congregation Beth Hamedrosh (Wynnewood)
Jeremy Joszef Director, Camp Morasha (Lakewood)
Mrs. Besie Katz Head of School, Politz Hebrew Academy (Philadelphia)
Daniel Kraut Executive Director, Hillel Academy (Pittsburgh)
Dr. Marc Oster President, Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh)
Rabbi Dovid Rosenberg Director of Development, Scranton Hebrew Day School (Scranton)
Michael Schlank CEO NJY Camps (Wayne and Pike Counties)
Rabbi Joel Seltzer, Executive Director, Camp Ramah in the Poconos (Lakewood)
Leah-Perl Shollar General Studies Principal, Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh)
Alan Silverman Director, Camp Moshava (Honesdale)
Rabbi Noam Stein Principal, Kohelet Yeshiva High School Merion Station)
Rabbi Avraham Steinberg Head of School, The Mesivta High School of Greater Philadelphia (Bala Cynwyd)
Rabbi Shraga Sherman Senior Rabbi, Chabad of the Main Line (Merion Station)
Rabbi Yehoshua Yeamans Rabbi, Congregation B’nai Israel Ohev Zedek (Philadelphia)
Rabbi Daniel Yolkut Rabbi, Congregation Poale Zedeck (Pittsburgh)
Draizy Zeiger Director, Palgai Mayim (Poconos)
CC: Teach PA
Arielle Frankston-Morris, Executive Director
2100 Arch St. Philadelphia, PA 19103