By Mica Soffer, Publisher, COLlive.com
Photos: Shimi Kutner
With an oversized check in hand, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that close to $6 million dollars are being allocated from the state budget to boost security at religious and nonprofit schools in Brooklyn.
Cuomo received hearty applause to his announcement, made on Wednesday morning to hundreds of students and their parents at the Magen David Yeshivah school on McDonald Avenue.
Cuomo said the money is part of a $25 million grant allocated to enhance training, secure buildings, install cameras and improve lighting in response to a 90 percent increase in hate crimes in New York.
The new funds are being made available to 118 projects in Brooklyn and 45 more facilities on Long Island, the New York Post reported.
Devorah Halberstam, co-founder of the Jewish Children’s Museum, whose son, Ari, was shot and killed on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1994, sat alongside Cuomo during the announcement.
She told how her son Ari Halberstam was “a proud Jew, with a great future. I could never imagine that I would live to bury him. My response was not to bomb a refugee camp in Lebanon, it was to sound the alarm right here in America, in New York City and around the world, that terrorism is here, terrorists live by no laws, we are all fair game, and their targets are men, women and children,” she said.
Halberstam’s response, she said, was “the core of Jewish life… the values and morals that are the essence of Judaism – to build and to create when they destroy, to survive when they try to snuff us out.”
Her determination led her to build the Jewish Children’s Museum in Ari’s memory, to educate people of all faiths about the Jewish culture and religion. She noted how last year, the Museum received a bomb threat, one of many against Jewish institutions that were found unfounded but still worrying.
Cuomo vowed “zero tolerance” as the state steps up security at religious institutions, the Post reported.
“We have people who are angry,” Cuomo said. “They’re angry about the economy. They’re angry about their jobs. They’re angry about their insecurity. And the easiest thing to do is to blame other people. Blame the differences. Blame the immigrants. Blame the people of different religions. And that’s why you see the increase in anti-Semitism.”
Cuomo announced the grants to a standing ovation, telling the children it is “so you know, when you go to school, you are in a safe place.”
“New York has zero tolerance for anti-semitism or racism. New York is proud of and celebrates our relationship with the Jewish community, and we thank the Jewish community for the cultural addition they have made to New York,” he said.