The Jerusalem Post
Congressional panel advances Pray Safe Act
WASHINGTON – The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee moved on Wednesday to advance the Pray Safe Act. The legislation would direct the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, working with other government agencies to streamlining information, which would provide at risk houses of worship and other faith based organizations with the most up to date safety and security recommendations, as well as information on federal resources and relevant grant programs. The bill passed by voice vote, with no objections.
Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) introduced the legislation in the Senate in June.
“Faith-based and communal institutions across the country should be able to gather for religious worship and service without fearing for their safety,” said Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) CEO Eric Fingerhut.
“Protecting the ability of all Americans to live out their faith and gather as a community without fear or harm is one of the most important duties of the federal government.”
“It is tragic that in the United States today that synagogues, churches, temples and other houses of worship can’t be assumed to be sanctuaries from violence and have been the sites of faith-targeted violence,” said Orthodox Union executive director for Public Policy Nathan Diament. “Freedom to worship cannot be enjoyed without freedom from fear. This legislation, when enacted and implemented, will support the greater security and safety of our community’s synagogues and other communities’ houses of worship. It is sad that we need this kind of legislation – but we do – and we call upon Congress to pass it right away.”
Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education, recommended a $10 million funding increase for the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program (HSAP) in fiscal year 2022.
According to the Jewish Federations of North America, approximately one third of the Holocaust survivors in the US are estimated to be living in poverty. “As a group, Holocaust survivors are subject to increased risk of depression, social isolation, and extremely poor outcomes if they don’t receive the proper care,” the JFNA said in a statement. “With the expressed support of more than 100 bipartisan House Members for the increased funding, JFNA is hopeful that the full Appropriations Committee, followed by the House chamber, will adopt the increased HSAP funding level later this month.”
“Since 2015, the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program has become a critical lifeline for the country’s remaining Holocaust survivors, their families, and providers,” said JFNA senior vice president for public affairs Elana Broitman.
“Doubling funding for the program will ensure continued service provision that promotes the dignity, strength and empowerment of the country’s remaining survivors, and also enhance opportunities to assist other aging adults who have been exposed to traumatic events,” she added.