The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
Last week the House of Representatives approved, by a vote of 354 to 72, a bill that would specifically permit the use of federal money to rebuild synagogues, churches and mosques damaged by Superstorm Sandy. In October Congress allocated $60 billion, part of which was designed to finance recovery efforts of non-profit institutions. However, the Federal Emergency Management Act (FEMA) has routinely denied the applications of houses of worship for disaster relief on the ground that the First Amendment forbids the use of public funds for religious purposes. So legislation was introduced to reverse this FEMA policy. The measure now goes to the Senate where the outcome is not yet clear.
The legislation provides that “a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or other house of worship, and a private non-profit facility operated by a religious organization” would be eligible for disaster aid “without regard to the religious character of the facility or the primary religious use of the facility.”
It would seem the legislation makes eminent common sense. Why exclude religious entities from general remedial programs available to not for profits generally? It is not as if religious institutions are being singled out for special largesse. If Congress decides that it is in the public interest to bring about large-scale restorations, such as roof and sidewall repair, by what logic can one exclude religious institutions that are in exactly the same position as non-religious entities? After all, religious institutions are entitled to, for example, police and fire protection just like their non-religious counterparts.
Indeed, if anything, we should be looking for ways to provide all similarly situated victims of natural disasters the means to rebuild and reenter society. Ironically, most religious institutions were in the forefront of providing early assistance to their battered neighbors.
We therefore find it troubling that Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who represents some of the devastated areas, not only voted against the remedial legislation but actually stood up in the House of Representatives and voiced his opposition: “Direct government funding of churches, synagogues, and mosques has always been held to be unconstitutional, and the decisions of the Supreme Court establishing that principle remain good law to this day.”
With all due respect, Mr. Nadler is mixing apples and oranges and offering a simplistic application of earlier Supreme Court decisions. This is certainly true in light of recent Supreme Court legitimization of special education programs for parochial school children and publicly funded vouchers redeemable at religious schools. More important, even he conceded that some scholars would disagree with his conclusions on constitutional imperatives.
We think it is the special responsibility of elected officials representing devastated areas to seek assistance for all constituents rather than discriminate against some of them.
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
For a peace treaty with the PA, half the Israeli public would agree to divide the Jerusalem
As for the president’s new, softer tone vis-à-vis Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel, this is most likely being driven by the results of the recent Israeli election.
What especially appeals to us is his grand – some critics would say extravagant –view of what the borders of Israel should look like.
The establishment of Hebrew University was a cause much beloved to Einstein who in 1923, during what would be his only trip to Eretz Yisrael, delivered the university’s inaugural lecture on Har Hatzofim (Mt. Scopus) and, discussing the theory of relativity, spoke the first few sentences of his address in Hebrew.
The Golden Square wanted Germany to destroy the British and Jewish presence in their country. The Third Reich craved what was beneath the ground – oil.
Ida Nudel’s account of how the Soviets persecuted and punished her was far worse than imagined.
Swim4Sadna is an annual event benefiting Sadna, an integrative special-ed community in Gush Etzion
Prof. Wistrich, was THE foremost historian of anti-Semitism; committed spokesman & advocate of Jewry
Jewish Voices for Peace’s 2015 Haggadah is a blatant anti-Israel screed crying, “L’chayim to BDS!”
On his shloshim, I want to discuss a term I’ve heard countless times about Rav Aharon: Gedol HaDor
After obsequious claims of devotion to Israel, Obama took to criticizing Israel on peace process
Mr. Obama, Israeli voters have democratically chosen to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea&Samaria
There was something else of great importance in play – something we would have liked to see him take into account before deciding to stand with the boycotters.
Beyond the particulars of this tragic death, however, we should all be concerned about the possibility that a criminal prosecution in a major American city is being driven by fear of mobs in the street.
The president is unwilling to cede any of what he considers his exclusive powers in the area of foreign policy and has struggled mightily to keep the Senate away from any role in the kind of deal to be negotiated.
A committed Religious Zionist, he was a sought-after adviser on Zionist affairs around the world.
More important, Mr. Obama is simply acceding to Iran’s position on the timing of the lifting of sanctions.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/congressman-nadler-disappoints/2013/02/20/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: