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St. Louis Jewish institutions receive security grants

Trees surrounding the outside of the Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio
Landscaping to change sight lines is one way the Central Reform Congregation plans to use its grant from the Department of Homeland Security.

Six Jewish institutions in the St. Louis area are receiving a total of $370,000 from the Department of Homeland Security to help protect them against possible threats.

The money is the latest allocation of federal preparedness grants intended to help prevent and protect the country from terrorist attacks and other emergencies.

The Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis is one of two area synagogues receiving a grant.

Executive director Nancy Weigley said the congregation will use part of the funds to increase lighting and add cameras to the property.

“These are security systems that everybody has in place or should have in place,” Weigley said. “Unfortunately with what’s going on in the world no one is immune to having issues in their institution.”

Weigley said her congregation applied for the grant as a precaution, not because of any specific concerns. Her organization also applied for the competitive grant last year, but didn’t receive it.

Even with the added protections coming to the property, Weigley said she won’t have complete peace of mind.

“It gives us some sense of security and it certainly gives us a little bit more control,” she said. “But I think it would be not in anybody’s interest to think that because you have cameras or you have additional lighting that things can’t happen.”

According to a press release from U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-Mo., the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, two Jewish schools and a senior center also received grants from DHS.

It’s unclear whether other St. Louis organizations have received preparedness grants this year or in past years. The department did not respond to a request for more information.

Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.