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Rabbi held hostage in synagogue attack will testify on Capitol Hill

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, the rabbi taken hostage in his Texas synagogue during Shabbat prayer services, is expected to testify before a House committee Tuesday on the need for increased security funding for synagogues and other vulnerable nonprofits.

Cytron-Walker credited security training he received with helping to save his and his congregants’ lives last month. After a nearly 11-hour standoff, he threw a chair at the hostage-taker, distracting him and allowing for an escape. Walker said after the ordeal that he wished an armed guard had been present.

The virtual hearing is being held by the Homeland Security Committee’s subcommittee on intelligence and counterterrorism.

It will also hear from Rabbi Yosef Konikov, of Chabad of South Orlando, whose synagogue was the target of a bomb threat in 2017; Eric Fingerhut, chief executive of The Jewish Federations of North America; and Michael Masters, director of the Secure Community Network, a safety group affiliated with the Jewish Federations of North America and Conference of Presidents.

Jewish communal leaders have launched a campaign – supported by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to double current funding of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program from $180 million to $360 million.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has also expressed support for boosting the program’s funding.

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