Mar. 19, 2020

HARRISBURG – Agudas Israel Congregation in Hazleton has been awarded a state security grant, according to Rep. Tarah Toohil (R-Luzerne), who helped to secure the funding. The funding was made available through the Nonprofit Security Grant Fund Program, which is administered by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD).

The congregation received $24,976 for enhancements to the security systems at its synagogue, including bullet-resistant window film, a computer-controlled electronic lock system, high-resolution surveillance cameras, video monitor and recorder, and parking lot fencing.

“I strongly supported the Agudas Israel Congregation’s application and am pleased it was approved for funding,” said Toohil. “There is no question as to the need for these security enhancements. They have been the recent victims of anti-Semitic graffiti; bullet holes in their stained glass windows; burglaries in which religious articles, money and electronics were stolen; and vehicle break-ins.”

“The congregation feels, in light of increased anti-Semitic occurrences and our history of incidents, funding for this project is imperative to increase security and safety of our Jewish community, children’s Hebrew school and Interfaith activities,” said Debbie Walko, congregation board president. “I would like to personally thank Rep. Toohil and her staff for their assistance in the grant process. Also, I would like to thank Marlene Leonard, synagogue vice president, for her long hours of work and assistance in this project.”

The PCCD announced just over $5 million in state funding for security enhancement projects for 113 churches, synagogues and other nonprofit organizations serving diverse communities throughout the Commonwealth.

“We dedicate this project to the memories of those who lost their lives in the recent unfortunate attacks at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh; the Poway Synagogue in California; and the kosher supermarket shootings in Jersey City, New Jersey. Their memories live on,” added Walko.

Representative Tarah Toohil
116th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives