web analytics
August 2, 2015 / 17 Av, 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. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


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.

Current Top Story
Jewish and Muslim bless a crowd of hundreds at a special prayer rally at Gush Etzion junction.
Jews, Arabs Unite to Underline Co-existence in Gush Etzion
Latest News Stories
Jewish and Muslim bless a crowd of hundreds at a special prayer rally at Gush Etzion junction.

Arabs and Jews rallied together for co-existence Sunday at the Gush Etzion junction, joined by MK Yair Lapid.

Joint Prayers at Tzomet Hagush

Settlers, Sheikhs, Rabbis and secular politicians came together on Sunday evening for a joint prayer session at the Gush Etzion junction.

camel air conditioning

Israelis have broken the nation’s record for energy consumption in this week’s heat wave.

The body of missing Israeli back packer Dor Cohen has been found in Georgia.

A 16-year-old girl has died of her wounds after being stabbed at Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Parade.

Officials looked again at the sprouting wildfires after a terror victim memorial was torched in Mt. Hebron.

There is a new kind of arms race that involves producing the most impenetrable virtual fortresses of cybersecurity to resist catastrophic threats.

An Israeli citizen is killed in Thailand while traveling from Pattaya to Bangkok.

PM Netanyahu says Israel’s zero tolerance for terror distinguishes it from its neighbors.

They managed to collect $3,300 from ISIS recruiters, before they were caught by the Chechen police E unit.

Iran is already banking on the lifting of sanctions; vow to raise oil production to 1 million bpd.

A Gva’ot woman was hurt Sunday in a rock attack on her car by Arab terrorists in Samaria.

Israelis have been feeling the heat lately, and not only over tensions erupting from the Iran nuclear deal.

Wildfires again were raging in the Judean Hills around the Israeli capital this weekend. Even Sapir was evacuated as homes burned.

Arab violence failed to keep Jewish and Gentile tourists off the Temple Mount this weekend; Israel Police just kept rioters away instead.

More Articles from Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Cong. Albio Sires (D-NJ-8)

Cong. Albio Sires of New Jersey is the third Democrat so far to come out against the JCPOA because it won’t bar Iran from becoming a nuclear state

Cong. Juan Vargas (D-CA-51)

California Democratic Congressman will vote against Iran deal because it fails to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear threshold state.

Kerry justifies keeping Iran deal “side deals” from the American public, while skipping Israel on ME trip.

A poll suggesting American Jews support the Iran deal is flawed, while a new poll reveals the opposite.

Netanyahu called Pollard’s wife over news of his impending release from prison.

12,000 people filled Times Square at the Stop Iran Now rally in NY’s Times Square.

The NYC rally against the Iran deal must show Congress, which must show the world, that Americans don’t support this deal.

Read “Catch the Jew” to learn the truth about Israel, Israelis, Arab Palestinians and the havoc-wreaking NGOs in the region.

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: