web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



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

Share Button

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.

Share Button

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.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

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

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Flyers ordered Jews to appear at a designated location in Ukraine, in Sept., 1941. The next day, the Jews lined up at the Babi Yar Ravine.
‘Jews Must Register’ Flyer in Ukraine an Echo of Babi Yar
Latest News Stories
Rabbi Stav spoke after the visiting head of the Reform movement, Reform Rabbi (nebech) Rick Jacobs, had told the Knesset forum that Reform and Conservative Jews outnumber and outweigh the Orthodox.

As Rabbi Stav said, “You’re free to think what you want. But do you want me to recognize Chelsea Clinton’s child as a Jew?”

Flyers ordered Jews to appear at a designated location in Ukraine, in Sept., 1941. The next day, the Jews lined up at the Babi Yar Ravine.

In 1941, the Jews of Kiev received a similar leaflet. When they showed up the next day, more than 34,000 were murdered.

South Florida teen stabbed in high school gym.

Teen stabbed in South Florida high school.

Birkat Cohanim 2014

The Kotel Plaza, the stairs, the Kotel entrance, the roads, everything was packed for Birkat Cohanim – the Priestly Blessing of the People – now imagine if this had been held on top of Har HaBayit, the Temple Mount!

Four Israeli citizens were hurt Thursday in a road terror attack near Tekoa in Gush Etzion.

Israel Police closed access to the Temple Mount to Jews and other non-Muslims on Thursday due to Arab violence.

Jews in Donetsk, Ukraine this week were ordered to “register” themselves and their assets.

U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk is on his way back to the region to revive talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Hebron is proving to be a popular family tourist site during the Passover Holiday.

Hundreds attended the funeral of Police Chief Superintendent Baruch Mizrachi, who was slain by terrorists on Passover eve.

A local Jewish merchant was stabbed Monday on the island of Djerba.

The Israeli hi-tech company Matrix has announced it is opening a “massive training center” in Nanjing, China.

Rabbis have been busy with preparations for the traditional Birkat Kohanim, Priestly Blessing, set for Thursday.

The suspect charged in the pre-Passover shooting deaths of three people outside two Kansas Jewish centers is a known white supremacist.

More than 400 people sat down at the first seder this year at the Chabad House of Bangkok, Thailand.

The following is President Obama’s statement on Passover (April 14, 2014). As he has in the past, the President held an official Passover Seder at the White House. Michelle and I send our warmest greetings to all those celebrating Passover in the United States, in Israel, and around the world. On Tuesday, just as we […]

More Articles from Lori Lowenthal Marcus
Flyers ordered Jews to appear at a designated location in Ukraine, in Sept., 1941. The next day, the Jews lined up at the Babi Yar Ravine.

In 1941, the Jews of Kiev received a similar leaflet. When they showed up the next day, more than 34,000 were murdered.

South Florida teen stabbed in high school gym.

Teen stabbed in South Florida high school.

Ron Pundak was involved in many leftist “peace” initiatives. Pundak died on Friday.

Another failed anti-Israel Divestment measure. This one at Cornell University.

The US may pretend it was forced to give up Pollard, but it is US that most wants to continue talks.

Hirsi Ali’s critics wanted her silenced; Brandeis granted their wish.

Brandeis buckled to those who embrace diversity and tolerance only of their own views.

Celebrate Israel Parade should be successful, without anti-Israel BDSers parading down 5th Avenue!

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

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: