By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
Fighting the increase in antisemitism is a top priority of your Federation. We’ve seen the numbers: ADL stats show that antisemitic incidents increased by a shocking 60 percent over the past five years. Behind those alarming numbers is the fear and anxiety that arise whenever we hear reports of harassment, vandalism, and physical assaults. And now there are cyber threats in the mix that must be addressed.
Through our SAFE Washington community security program, building alliances inside and outside the community, and advocating for policy solutions, Federation gives the highest priority to this critical work.
SAFE Washington, now entering its 14th year of service thanks to the support of our generous donors, is carrying out indispensable work behind the scenes to provide communal organizations across our state with the tools and resources to remain as safe as they can be. Maintaining strong working relationships with law enforcement partners. Tracking and sharing potential threat information in real time. Providing a wealth of resources and timely trainings on a broad range of security topics.
SAFE also plays a critical role in walking Jewish organizations across our state through the complex process of applying for federal Non-Profit Security Grants to pay for security upgrades to their facilities. In the most recent grant cycle in 2020, $718,000 in grants were awarded to Washington state Jewish organizations for security improvements. And the $180 million of total funding available, double the funding appropriated in 2019, is thanks to the advocacy of your Federation and our partners at the Jewish Federations of North America in Washington, DC.
As safety and security needs evolve, SAFE has stayed ahead of the curve. Since the pandemic’s outbreak, SAFE has provided Jewish organizations with essential, up-to-date guidance and best practices for protecting the people they serve and their employees. As cyber threats have grown in scale and sophistication, SAFE has been on top of helping organizations, large and small, protect their computer systems and the precious data they hold from the increasing threat of ransomware and other crippling cyberattacks.
In just a few weeks, many Washington congregations will hold High Holidays services and events with a mix of in-person and online attendance options. SAFE is on the job helping them understand the planning and preparedness steps that are necessary for providing both a secure and welcoming experience.
Safety and security are fundamental for ensuring Jewish continuity. In a world where we must remain vigilant against old hatreds and new threats, SAFE Washington is on the job for all of us every day. Many thanks to our generous supporters, who make this essential service possible.