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Poway Synagogue Received Government Security Grant A Month Before Shooting

Chabad of Poway, where one woman was killed and three injured in an anti-Semitic shooting last Saturday, had applied for and received a grant to update its security from the federal government, the AP reported.

The synagogue only received the $150,000 federal grant in late March, and reportedly had not had enough time to implement the security updates proposed before the shooting ocurred.

“Obviously, we did not have a chance to start using the funds yet,” Simcha Backman, who oversees security grants for Chabad centers in California, told the AP. He declined to say whether the proposed security updates might have changed the outcome of Saturday’s shooting.

While the Poway synagogue did not have hired armed guards, it had been asking community members with gun licenses to sit near or inside the synagogue during services as sentries in case of an attack.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, the synagogue’s rabbi, who was shot in the attack, had also reportedly applied for a concealed carry permit.

The synagogue, built in the 1990s, had begun updating its security facilities in 2010, including spending a $75,000 federal grant on added security cameras and fencing. It applied for the larger federal grant last May, and received the money on March 22.

Goldstein has said to reporters that the synagogue was unable to afford armed security guards. New rules from FEMA, which distributes federal grants for security to houses of worship, will allow the grantees to spend the money on security personnel.

To lower costs, some security experts are advocating that congregations have members obtain gun carry licenses to guard their own synagogues. Others say that only trained professionals can protect against a chaotic active shooter situation efficiently and safely.

On Monday, California’s governor announced that his budget will include $15 million for a program that funds security system updates at houses of worship.

Click here to read 11 common-sense ways to increase your synagogue’s security.

Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter @aefeldman




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