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Alexandria partners with local synagogue to obtain hate crime prevention funding

Last Friday, Alexandria won a $147,600 grant from the state to protect local religious congregations from hate crimes.

The grant funding is the end result of a partnership between the Alexandria Police Department (APD) and the Agudas Achim Congregation. The $147,600 in grant funding comes from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services’ Combating Hate Crime Grant.

“Every resident of our City deserves the right to worship safely,” Mayor Justin Wilson said in a release. “This Hate Crime Grant funding provides our Alexandria faith-based communities with vital resources, including first-aid training and supplies. The Alexandria Police Department and congregations in the City are establishing a wonderful partnership and network of safety for the entire city.”

The grant comes amid a notable upswing in antisemitic hate crimes nationwide. A new report showed a rise in antisemitic harassment and vandalism — though the report also conflates opposition to the Israeli government with antisemitism.

“Generally, while the Commonwealth has not seen antisemitic assaults take place since 2018, there has been an increased frequency of antisemitic harassment and antisemitic vandalism at levels which have remained constant from 2018 to 2021,” the report said. “In 2021, 411 reported antisemitic incidents impacted residents of the Commonwealth. These incidents showed a 71% increase over the 292 reported incidents in 2020.”

The congregation was harassed last year with a barrage of antisemitic slurs during a meeting and security was stepped up in 2019 after a series of attacks against Jewish communities and leaders.

According to the release, the grant funding will support first-aid training to the entire interfaith community in Alexandria, encompassing 50 congregations around the city.

“Each participating congregation will also receive first-aid kits and tourniquets,” the release said. “In addition, funding will support security enhancements at the Agudas Achim Congregation.”

The funding comes from a pool of $1.5 million available statewide for hate crime prevention on a local level.

“I want to thank members of the Alexandria Police Department and the Agudas Achim Congregation for their vision and tireless work involved in obtaining this grant,” said Alexandria City Manager James Parajon. “This collaboration is a wonderful example of how our great institutions can stand together to protect members of our community.”