Fundraising Launched To Enhance Security In Bham’s Jewish Community: “We Shall Not Be Deterred”
By Richard Friedman,
BJF Executive Director
Amid the recent wave of bomb threats directed at Jewish Community Centers and Jewish institutions throughout the country (including four at our own Montclair Road Jewish Community Campus), the painting of swastikas, destruction of Jewish graves, and other anti-Semitic acts, the Birmingham Jewish Federation has launched an emergency fundraising campaign to enhance security at all of our local Jewish institutions.
This emergency campaign was officially authorized Wednesday by the Federation’s Board of Directors and longtime Jewish community volunteer leader Donald Hess was asked to chair it, which he has agreed to do.
“Our Jewish community agencies and synagogues always have paid attention to security but this recent outbreak of anti-Jewish incidents has motivated us to enhance security throughout our Jewish community,” explained Donald. “Law enforcement personnel have made a series of recommendations that will enhance security significantly. We are deeply grateful for their participation and consultation and feel confident that our institutions will become even better-protected.”
A coordinating committee chaired by Donald and representing all of our Jewish institutions has been established. This committee will help assess needs and allocate funds for security enhancements in coordination with the Birmingham Jewish Federation which will strive to raise up to $1,000,000 to benefit all of our Jewish community agencies and congregations. “We have been advised by law enforcement not to share publicly the improvements that already have been made or the things we plan to do, but they are necessary and all expenditures will be reviewed carefully,” explained Donald.
Donald also expressed his gratitude to the members and users of our institutions, especially those who send their young children to our community schools, for their steadfastness, cooperation, patience and assistance during this current episode. “Our community has come together magnificently and the support we have received from the broader Birmingham community also has been unbelievable,” he said. “I am confident that we will emerge from all this as an even stronger Jewish community and with even deeper friendships in the broader community.”
One hundred percent of the money raised will go directly for security enhancements, both physical and operational. To contribute, please send a check to the Birmingham Jewish Federation made out to the BJF and earmarked for security. Send it to Security, c/o the Birmingham Jewish Federation, PO Box 130219, Birmingham, AL, 35213 or go to the link below.
If you wish to gift appreciated stock or give your credit card information verbally, please contact BJF staff member Tiffany Hyche at 205-803-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Birmingham Jewish Foundation made a large emergency allocation to initiate this effort and to address immediate needs. Additional donations already have been received.
Jews across the country have been jittery since the bomb threats began nearly two months ago, and even though all the threats, thankfully, have been false they have created anxiety and turmoil within Jewish communities. In addition, many JCCs such as ours have a substantial percentage of members who aren’t Jewish who also have been affected and disrupted.
Members of our Christian community, many of whom belong to or use our Levite Jewish Community Center, will be contributing to this effort as well.
The BJF has been advised that several Christian leaders and ministries have formed a partnership to ask their constituents to help in this fund-raising project. So far the ones involved are Scott Dawson Evangelistic Association, The Center for Executive Leadership, Lifework Leadership, Young Business Leaders, JH Ranch, and Alliance Ministries. The National Christian Foundation/Alabama has agreed to receive and mail out tax receipts for donations. They will forward 100% of these donations to us without charging any fees.
Well-known radio personality Rick Burgess promoted this fundraising effort on the Rick & Bubba Show last week and read a letter of support from Dr. Harry Reeder, Senior Pastor at Briarwood Presbyterian Church. Several other churches have also indicated their support.
The BJF is very grateful for this outpouring of support from our Christian community.
“We appreciate all those who have stepped forward to help and thank those who will be stepping forward,” said Donald. “We have great Jewish institutions in Birmingham and wonderful friends — and this frustrating saga has demonstrated all of this once again. Jewish life will continue to thrive in our city and our Levite Jewish Community Center will remain a unique and welcoming center of diversity for all the people of Birmingham. We shall not be deterred.”
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