Gate by the road of Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the United States
Gate by the road of Touro Synagogue, the oldest synagogue in the United States Istock

On Wednesday, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (Orthodox Union) applauded the US Senate’s passage of the Pray Safe Act (S. 2123), bipartisan legislation that would establish a federal clearinghouse on safety and security to govern best practices for faith-based organizations.

The bill was passed by a voice vote Tuesday night.

US Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) drafted and introduced the legislation in the Senate last summer, with assistance from the Orthodox Union Advocacy Center, the nonpartisan public policy arm of the Orthodox Union. The Advocacy Center has been pressing for passage of the Pray Safe Act since its introduction, including sending a letter in support of the legislation.

The legislation directs the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, working with the Department of Justice, the Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and other agencies to create the clearinghouse, which would provide at-risk houses of worship and other faith-based organizations with the most up-to-date safety and security recommendations, as well as information on federal resources and relevant grant programs.

Orthodox Union President, Moishe Bane, stated: “Americans of all faiths can only exercise their freedom to worship if they have freedom from fear. The Pray Safe Act contains important tools to better ensure the safety of our synagogues, churches and other houses of worship.”

Nathan Diament, Orthodox Union Executive Director for Public Policy, said: “We thank Sens. Portman and Hassan for their dedicated leadership on this legislation, and we urge the US House of Representatives to pass this bill without delay so that people and nonprofit organizations at risk of threats and attacks can avail themselves of important federal resources and programs already in existence.”