Although it wasn’t the first violent anti-Semitic attack on U.S. soil, the hostage-taking crisis in Colleyville, Texas, last month was a tipping point for the Jewish community. A synagogue represents our safe and sacred home, and when one is attacked, our entire community feels vulnerable. We testified before Congress last Tuesday about this threat and the urgent need to expand federal funding to protect Jewish and other religious institutions.
The federal government already provides some money to protect houses of worship through the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, but it’s not enough for the times we live in. Anti-Semitism is all too common; white nationalism and other kinds of extremism (including neo-Nazism) are spiking; and a growing number of American citizens are drawn to the use of violence to express their political views. A Department of Homeland Security National Terrorism Advisory System Bulletin last week warned that the country is in a “heightened threat landscape” that is increasing in its “volatility, unpredictability, and complexity.” Religious institutions of all kinds need to be more prepared in case of violent attacks.