Agudath Israel is pleased to announce that 9 million dollars of New York State funding for security equipment – approximately $20 per child – will be allocated to nonpublic schools, as promised, very soon.

This grant, the Nonpublic Safety Equipment Fund, is part of the SAFE Act, passed by the New York State legislature in 2013. The schools have been waiting for this money, which they can use to buy high tech video cameras, intercoms, remote electronic door unlatching systems, and many other state-of-the-art security tools.

Funding approved for the schools in 2014-15 was delayed, and Mrs. Deborah Zachai, director of Agudath Israel’s Yeshiva Services Division, and other advocates at Agudath Israel have been working behind the scenes with state officials to hasten the process. The goal is that these grants get to the schools in time for them to install potentially life-saving safety equipment before September and the start of the 2015-16 school year.

This week, Mrs. Zachai received notification that the funds are coming soon. She was pleased to hear that the New York State Education Department accepted her recommendation and is releasing funds for two years at once — the 4.5 million dollar allocation for 2014-15 and another 4.5 million for 2015-16.

“Security is such an important issue for nonpublic schools, especially for yeshivas, which can be a target of anti-semitic and terrorist threats,” said Mrs. Zachai. “Grants like these help schools afford high tech equipment that they wouldn’t be able to pay for on their own, so they can keep our children safe.”

Rabbi Reuven Lefkowits, Administrator at Talmud Torah Ohr Moshe in Brooklyn, is immensely grateful to Agudath Israel and state legislators for the funding that provided his school with a high-end sophisticated video system. The equipment, installed in summer of 2014, was helpful this week in catching three teenagers who had vandalized the school over the weekend, breaking a window and spraying graffiti on the walls and on a school bus that said, “Jews – Get out!” With the zoom-in features of the video cameras, police were able to catch and arrest the culprits.

“This grant helps the community and keeps everybody safe,” said Rabbi Lefkowits. “Without those videos, there was no way to know who had done this, and they’d still be walking around. Mrs. Zachai and Agudath Israel worked very hard, pushing to help get this money passed through in Albany, and we’re all in their debt.”

(Author: Judith Dinowitz)