web analytics
January 26, 2015 / 6 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Home » News & Views

Orthodox Seeking Federal Funds for Sandy-Struck Synagogues UPDATED

The law will correct a defect in the current FEMA legislation by making clear that houses of worship are to be included amongst the nonprofit recipients of federal disaster relief aid
Boro Park Getting Ready for Hurricane Sandy, 2012.

Boro Park Getting Ready for Hurricane Sandy, 2012.
Photo Credit: JDN

Wednesday is the day you can help the synagogues and other houses of worship that helped you and others who suffered from Hurricane Sandy.

After Hurricane Sandy ravaged parts of New York City and the surrounding communities last fall, many synagogues and other houses of worship became distribution centers for material goods and spiritual relief to those affected.  Many of those buildings sustaining enormous damage from the storm.  But because those types of non-profits are not specifically mentioned in the authorizing legislation, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been unwilling to provide them with available relief funds.

The Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs and the National Council of Young Israel are asking constituents to call their federal legislative representatives and tell them to vote in favor of legislation that will solve the problem: HR 592, the “Federal Disaster Assistance NonProfit Fairness Act of 2013.”

HR 592 is bi-partisan legislation introduced by Rep. Grace Meng, a New York Democrat (NY-06), and Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican (NJ- 04).  It will correct a defect in the current FEMA legislation by making clear that houses of worship are to be included amongst the nonprofit recipients of federal disaster relief aid.

The language that the bill will add to the current law that provides disaster relief and emergency funding defines houses of worship as

A church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or other house of worship, and a private nonprofit facility operated by a religious organization, shall be eligible for contributions under paragraph (1)(B), without regard to the religious character of the facility or the primary religious use of the facility

The ever-present fear that any time government and religion come near each other the mighty “separation of Church and State” that Americans hold dear might be threatened is often enough to overcome common sense.  But the Constitution does not prohibit any relationship between the two, what it prohibits is for the government to promote and support one particular religion, according to the bill’s proponents.

Because HR 592 will provide funding for any house of worship that is affected by natural disasters, the fear of unconstitutionality recedes. In order to ensure there is no misunderstanding, the religious organizations hope that the legislation is passed.  If it is, millions of dollars of the relief fund will become available to the more than 2oo synagogues and other houses of worship that were damaged in the storm.

A vote on this bill will take place on Wednesday, February 13.  The OU and NCYI ask that all citizens call their legislators and ask them to vote yes on HR 592.  For those who don’t know how to contact their representatives, or even who is their representative, there are websites which provide the information.

In addition to the organizations that represent Orthodox Jews, there is a broad range of support for HR 592, including the Jewish Federations of North America, the New York Board of Rabbis, the Rabbinical Assembly, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Council of Churches of the City of New York, the American Jewish Committee, the Archdiocese of Trenton and Newark, the American Jewish Committee and Agudath Israel.

UPDATE Febreary 13:  Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 592, by a vote of 354 to 72.  The bill now goes to the Senate for approval.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

5 Responses to “Orthodox Seeking Federal Funds for Sandy-Struck Synagogues UPDATED”

  1. James Peron says:

    No religious group should be funded from tax funds ever, for any reason. And, they all should be taxed the same as all other non-profits.

  2. How is it that title SEEKING FUNDS was changed TO CHASING FUNDS?

  3. Can you expand on that? If building, housing house of worship, got flooded and was damaged, just like yours, they not entitled to the same help like you?

  4. Lori Lowenthal Marcus says:

    this is from a special fund for non-profits, it is not the same as for residential housing. houses of worship are classified as non-profits, like animal shelters or legal aid offices. Because religious institutions are treated separately very often because of the strong desire to keep "church and state" separate, the houses of worship were not eligible to apply for the funds that other damaged non-profits could. I hope that's helpful.

  5. Charlie Hall says:

    James Madison, who actually wrote the First Amendment, and Thomas Jefferson, who had authored a similar statute when Governor of Virginia, held the same position as James Peron. I know that it is now completely un-PC to suggest that the US can learn anything from Europe, but the fact is that in Europe, religious institutions receive government funding and it has not resulted in a loss of religious liberty. France is the most militantly secular country in the free world yet it generously funds Jewish schools. Hence the fears of Madison and Jefferson regarding excessive religious entanglement with government have been proven to be unfounded.

    Also, religious institutions DO pay taxes on their property that is not used for religious purposes. And exemptions from civil rights laws and the like only apply to strictly religious activities and not to things like hospitals and social service organizations run by religious organizations. There is currently an attempt to block the Obamacare contraception mandate as it applies to such activities and that is wrong — if a religious organization is involved in non-religious activity it needs to be treated the same as a non-religious organization.

    And that is the justification for the FEMA aid! Religious organizations should be treated the same as non-religious organizations. The current law does not make this clear; what the House of Representatives did clarifies this. Hopefully the Senate will go along quickly.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Jan. 20, 2014.
Canada’s Harper Govt to Introduce Anti-Terror Legislation by Weekend
Latest News Stories
An orthodox travel agent helped  saved the life of a Jew by convincing him not to violate the Shabbat by boarding the Malaysian flight that went missing.

ISIS-linked cyber terrorists promoting a ‘Cyber Caliphate’ were busy early Monday hacking the website of Malaysia Airlines.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Jan. 20, 2014.

Canada’s Conservative government is set to consider new anti-terror legislation by the end of this week, following some nations in Europe.

Old City of Jerusalem

The Old City of Jerusalem is made up of multiple cultures living side by side, in various degrees of conflict and cooperation.

An Israeli soldier prays at an IDF staging area near the Israeli border with Gaza, on July 31, 2014.

IDF soldiers were dragged to missionary evening of ‘appreciation’ for soldiers who fought in Operation Protective Edge last summer in Gaza.

Israeli President Ruvy Rivlin met in New York with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

For the first time in five years, Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror government allows Israeli imports.

The northeastern United States is gearing up for what may be one of the biggest blizzards in the past half century.

If US Jews were to make Aliyah at the rate the Jewish Agency expects from France, Israel would have 1 million more Jews.

Iran allegedly is plotting to assassinate the sons of the current and former Israeli prime ministers.

The White House is passing up the opportunity for Obama’s first meeting with the new Israeli president.

Northern Israel is on a high tension wire. The IDF temporarily closed roads Sunday because of a reported “security incident.”

Jewish journalist Damian Pachter has arrived in Israel from Argentina via Uruguay, having fled for his life.

President Abbas has been genuinely committed against violence – John Kerry, March 3, 2014 at AIPAC conference.

Prior to Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Bibi talked about the dangers of Iran, ISIS and anti-Semitism and the importance of Aliyah.

It appears the bomb was thrown or placed there yesterday but didn’t explode.

The Histadrut national labor union has warned that Israelis may have to travel without Egged buses on Monday unless company management satisfies employees and drivers’ demands on salaries and work conditions. As things stand now, late Sunday afternoon, Egged workers will stage a one-day warning strike Monday following what they say is a failure of […]

More Articles from Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger met in NYC, Jan. 25, 2015.

Israeli President Ruvy Rivlin met in New York with former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara, with their sons Yair (R) and Avner (2L),  on December 01, 2014.

Iran allegedly is plotting to assassinate the sons of the current and former Israeli prime ministers.

In the Alberta province of Canada, a synagogue was defaced with huge block letters scrawled on its walls: ‘Leave Canada’

Fatah is calling on Palestinian Arabs to protests against Israel on Jan. 26, and to boycott Israeli products

Seven Americans have volunteered to each take 100 lashes in place of Saudi blogger Raif Badawi.

The waning interest of young Jews in committing themselves either to activism on behalf of the Jewish State or to commitment to observing and learning about their own religion has been a recurrent theme in recent years. One rabbi decided he was going to take a fresh, creative approach to the problem. Rabbi Yosef Wilhelm of […]

Yemeni president and government resigns, shia rebels appear to seize control, al-Qaeda remains big concern

Despite claims the Mossad has gone rogue on Iran, Israel’s spy agency is not opposed to additional Iran sanctions.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/orthodox-orgs-ask-for-help-getting-federal-funds-for-sandied-synagogues/2013/02/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: