web analytics
May 28, 2015 / 10 Sivan, 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
"Rolling Stoned", a smoke shop in Tel Aviv, sells smoking and vaporising paraphernalia for medical cannabis and tobacco.
MK and Police Discussing Making Marijuana Legal
Latest News Stories
"Rolling Stoned", a smoke shop in Tel Aviv, sells smoking and vaporising paraphernalia for medical cannabis and tobacco.

Does the popularity of smoking grass mean that is good for the soul?

Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Organization President Mohammad Sarafraz.

The US decides “no more extensions” as international nuclear talks with Iran come down to the wire.

Former Prisoner of Zion Natan Sharansky serves today as the Jewish Agency for Israel's Chairman of the Executive.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky expresses his firm support for Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin.

Elephants in the Water

With temperatures soaring, everyone is getting in the water…

Russia closed its deal Monday to deliver the powerful S-300 missile defense system to Iran… eventually.

Flash floods and more rain in Texas means a rising death toll and desperate people searching in kayaks.

Perhaps surprisingly, the Netanyahu government voted Wednesday to form a new ministerial committee on Arab affairs.

Shurat HaDin calls for expulsion of PA soccer chief Rajoub for inciting terror – hours before Swiss arrests of FIFA officials for various charges of corruption.

Rabbi Riskin believes the Rabbinate must be prepared to accept Halachic decisions that aren’t Ultra-Orthodox.

The case also called for banning the sale of French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Liberation newspaper in Egypt over “blasphemy against Prophet Mohamed.”

Saed Erekat: Israel first must agree to all of our terms before we negotiate.

The temperature is expected to reach extreme levels today, drink water.

“In the chaos of the conflict… Hamas…granted its security forces free rein to carry out horrific abuse, amounting to war crimes.”

The Israeli Air Force responded to a rocket attack from Gaza by striking terrorist sites within the Strip.

Information on more than 100,000 US taxpayers was stolen by hackers who breached the IRS.

Hamas terrorist leaders are hiding again as Israel considers a response to Tuesday’s rocket attack.

More Articles from Lori Lowenthal Marcus
David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister, inside the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, 1948

The Israeli Air Force responded to a rocket attack from Gaza by striking terrorist sites within the Strip.

The city of Palmyra in Syria was captured by ISIS on May 21, 2015.

This week ISIS captured two major cities, one in Iraq, one in Syria. Assad’s escape plan revealed.

Liberman apologizes for describing Netanyahu’s decision to meet with head of Arab Joint Party List as “autistic.”

Was the flub the result of the snub, or was Obama simply inadequately prepared for his meeting with the Saudi princes?

U.S. government documents reveal government knew within days terrorists were behind Benghazi attacks

Shaked: ‘ the judiciary, rather than the elected representatives of the people, wield the power to govern’

Yom Yerushalayim brought out lots of students, adults and supporters of Israel.

ISIS leader killed in raid by U.S. commandos, now ISIS ‘threatening to kill Obama and Christians.’

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: