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December 19, 2014 / 27 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Sandy’

Website Helps Sandy Victims and Non-Profits Find Grants

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Grant funders are invited to post their nonprofit support for Hurricane Sandy and other disaster victims through the free “Enter a Grant” GrantWatch.com portal.

One year ago Hurricane Sandy whipped across the eastern coast of the United States and inland, taking with her beaches, boardwalks, businesses, and homes, and deposited rain, sea, and sand on roads and buildings. At the time, many government agencies, foundations, and corporations mobilized to provide grants and loans for those stricken. “The restoration is not completed,” Libby Hikind, CEO and founder of GrantWatch.com notes. “There are many organizations, businesses, and individuals who are still desperately trying now, a year later, to recover from Sandy. In searching, we have found little grant money available at the present time.”

Hikind encourages grant funders, who have the resources to assist the many Hurricane Sandy victims still suffering, to publicize their grants on the GrantWatch.com website.

With over 12,000 grants listed, GrantWatch.com is the number one website for USA and International federal, state, local, and foundation grants.

Government agencies, foundations, and corporations that have grants to assist Super Storm Sandy’s victims (and other funding categories) can post their funding opportunities (for free) through a dedicated portal on the GrantWatch.com home page. Funders Enter a New Grant by completing a short form.

Hikind recommends that grant funders and grant seekers think creatively when posting or searching for Sandy related grants. Funders with capacity building, housing, environment, social service, health and medical, education, operating support, and other grants should also consider it appropriate to list their grants in the disaster relief category. Grant seekers should consider all funding categories that might possibly be relevant to their situation and mission when searching for grants to help them recover from Sandy.

The following are examples of grants that are listed under a variety of different categories on GrantWatch.com, other than disaster relief, that would be appropriate for Sandy victims:

- Grants to USA Non-Profits for Social/Civic Services, Education, Arts, & Environment – Grants to Pennsylvania & New Jersey Non-Profits for Education, Income, Health, & Basic Needs – Grants to New York Municipalities & Non-Profits for Tree Planting & Other Urban Forestry Projects – Grants to U.S. Non-Profits, State/Local Institutions for the Preservation of Cultural Collections – Grants to USA & International Non-Profits for Preservation, Leadership, & Community Service

Libby Hikind also points out that government agencies and philanthropic organizations charged with assisting in the recovery efforts are now looking ahead to provide funding for projects that strengthen future disaster resiliency.

As such, she suggests that grant funders and grant seekers utilize GrantWatch.com as a resource for both posting through the Enter a New Grant portal or locating grants which increase capacity, educate the public on environmental and safety issues, improve infrastructure, disaster and emergency preparedness and other projects that help to improve the ability of communities and organizations to be better prepared for future disasters.

Grant seekers who have located grants to help in their recovery can go to GrantWriterTeam.com and request an experienced grant writer to help them apply for the monies they need and deserve. Professional grant writers complete their writer profile on GrantWriterTeam.com and bid on a multiple of grant writing projects.

GrantWriterTeam.com is the new innovative online program that Hikind recently developed to provide organizations with a team of professional grant writers and to provide grant writers with ready-made grant writing opportunities.

GrantWriterTeam.com’s services are especially important now when there is much competition for available funding. Finding the best grant writer to respond to the request for proposal is critical.

Libby Hikind says: “Organizations and individuals should not be struggling to obtain funding in order to recover from Hurricane Sandy or any other disaster. Both GrantWatch.com and GrantWriterTeam.com are here to help connect grant funders with grant seekers so that everyone benefits.”

New York Synagogues Bury 12 Torah Scrolls, Victims of Sandy

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Approximately 1000 people participated on Sunday in the burial of approximately 12 Torahs scrolls that sustained irreparable damage in Hurricane Sandy seven months ago. More than 40 synagogues were represented at the ceremony in Far Rockaway.

The Torah scrolls were from synagogues in Far Rockaway, Belle Harbor, Bayswater, Oceanside and Seagate.

The burials were not performed immediately after the hurricane because the communities were too traumatized to understand the tragedy and internalize its meaning, rabbis said.

Nadler Slams GOP over Churches, Synagogues Disaster Relief

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of downtown Manhattan is unhappy with a new Republican bill passed by the House of Representatives to provide federal funding to non-profits tied to religious organizations. Nadler argued that the bill is unconstitutional.

The bill passed the House on Wednesday by a 354-72 margin.

The Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act was introduced by Rep. Christopher H. Smith, New Jersey Republican, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, to ensure that the needs of places of worship or organizations with religious ties aren’t left out in the cold in rebuilding, The Raw Story reports.

The Jewish Press’ Lori Lowenthal Marcus reported on February 13 that 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 asked 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.”

The bill makes “a church, synagogue, mosque, temple or other house of worship, and a private nonprofit facility operated by a religious organization, eligible for federal contributions for the repair, restoration and replacement of facilities damaged or destroyed by a major disaster.”

“Direct government funding of churches, synagogues and mosques has always been held to be unconstitutional,” Nadler said. “The purpose of the bill is laudable. Unfortunately, it has real constitutional problems.”

(See: Protecting Religious Freedom by Rep. Nadler, which appeared in The Jewish Press print edition)

Rep. Nadler accused the Republicans of hypocrisy.

“The Majority has made a big issue of respecting the Constitution,” he said in the Raw Story report. “We read the Constitution at the beginning of this Congress, and we are required to provide a statement of constitutional authority when we introduce a bill. But all that means very little if, when faced with a genuinely significant constitutional question, this House instead gives it the bum’s rush.”

Current law allows for houses of worship and religious organizations to file for federal loans to rebuild after disasters. The new bill, if passed by the Senate and signed into law, would allow for direct grants to these facilities.

Protecting Religious Freedom

Wednesday, February 27th, 2013

Recently, I voted against legislation to allow the federal government to provide cash grants to rebuild houses of worship damaged by natural disasters. Many have asked me to explain why, given my long record of promoting religious liberty, I felt I had to vote “no.” Simply put, my objections went precisely to my determination to protect the rights of the Jewish community and other religious minorities.

The Constitution defends the rights of minority religious communities through the twin mandates of the First Amendment – the guarantee of the free exercise of religion and the prohibition of a government establishment of religion. While I was, of course, tempted to support grants that might provide some relief to a number of shuls, I decided that I simply was not willing to trade that potential short-term benefit for the likelihood of real long-term harm to the religious freedom protections upon which the Jewish community depends. And I certainly wasn’t willing to risk such harm without a single hearing to examine the serious constitutional questions the bill raised.

Some argue that denying these particular grants amounts to a form of religious discrimination. In fact, the Constitution treats religion differently precisely to protect religious minorities from government meddling. Government involvement with religion, while potentially conferring short-term benefits, has historically resulted in governmental interference and favoritism – and that has inevitably worked to disadvantage minority religious communities like ours. The people who wrote our Bill of Rights understood this because they had experienced it, and they, therefore, insisted on the separation of religion and government.

The Supreme Court has been very clear that the core principle of the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause is that government may not directly fund religion or religious objects. So, while the courts have permitted government funding for religious institutions’ buildings used for hot lunch programs and for math books used in yeshivas, the courts have consistently rejected using taxpayer money to pay for the types of things this bill would authorize – spaces reserved for religious worship and religious articles such as Bibles, Torahs, and Korans. The record is clear: the Supreme Court has rejected every single case brought before it that attempted to provide the type of funding made available in this bill. So, while the bill may be a nice political gesture, it is highly unlikely that any shuls will ever see any actual funds from it.

And the Supreme Court has ruled this way for good reason. Experience shows that once government starts funding religion, it starts demanding a say in how its money is spent. That has been true of every governmental expenditure. There have even been frequent attempts – which we have worked to beat back – to tell religious institutions how they must spend their own money and to impose governmental oversight of these institutions’ finances. For minority religious groups, including the observant Jewish community, that is a dangerous vulnerability that history has shown can – and will be – exploited by unfriendly outsiders.

The frum community knows government meddling all too well. It is no secret that there are those who are hostile to core Jewish religious practices. There have long been efforts to outlaw shechitah, ban or severely restrict bris milah, and prevent observant Jews from settling in communities where they haven’t previously lived. We have largely prevailed in these fights because of the twin guarantees of the First Amendment, which work together to preserve minority religious rights.

I have fought to preserve those protections because I believe in them, and because I know how the observant Jewish community can be abused without them.

One of my first acts in Congress was to fight for passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act(RFRA), which provides stronger safeguards for religious practices when they conflict with federal governmental requirements – like the right to have kosher food in federal prisons, or to be protected from autopsies.

When the frum community fights attempts by local governments to use zoning laws to block shuls, mikvehs, and shtibelach, or by local residents to block an eruv, it relies on the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which I helped write and got passed into law. The mere threat of a RLUIPA lawsuit often makes local governments back down.

Orthodox Seeking Federal Funds for Sandy-Struck Synagogues UPDATED

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

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.

What I Learned from Hurricane Sandy

Friday, December 7th, 2012

I am writing this column as Hurricane Sandy is barreling through the greater New York area, after having sorted a load of clean laundry by the light of a group of yahrtzeit candles and having washed my supper dishes with the aid of a clip on barbeque lamp. My electricity went out almost four hours ago and thoughts of what I did right and what I did wrong in preparation for a one of a kind storm that ironically, bears my name are still fresh in my mind.

Hurricane Sandy marks the second time I have had my electricity knocked out by a late October storm, having lost power exactly one year ago for five and a half days during a freak snowstorm that turned my little corner of the world into something that looked more like a war zone than a picturesque hamlet in New York’s Hudson Valley. In light of last year’s storm, I thought I had all my pre-storm preparations under control, but I can tell you right now that I was wrong and I am hoping that as we celebrate the anniversary of last year’s power outage with yet another blackout, I will finally learn my lesson and be better prepared for future meteorological mishaps.

I should add that this is by no means a comprehensive guide to weathering a storm (no pun intended.) Those are available by the dozen on the Internet, although you obviously want to read those before the storm blows through and totally decimates your wireless connection. These are just random tips that I have had the unfortunate opportunity to collect during too many days without electricity.

Lesson Number 1: It doesn’t matter what the season, storms can be very serious business and should be respected, given their ability to wreak havoc with our lives, particularly in this day and age when our lives revolve around numerous items that require electricity. So be it a hurricane, a nor’easter, a blizzard or a tropical storm, don’t underestimate the weather’s ability to do major damage.

Lesson Number 2: Just because you think you are prepared for a storm doesn’t mean you are. I know I have enough flashlights for every member of my family and that I have a basket full of batteries sitting in my closet. Yet, somehow, almost all the flashlights have disappeared and I am almost completely out of AA and D batteries, the two sizes I need for the few flashlights that didn’t mysteriously vanish into thin air. Keep a flashlight next to your bed at night and if you are going out and will be coming back after dark, take a flashlight with you. Unless you have lived through a blackout, you can’t possibly imagine just how dark it can get when there is no power anywhere in your neighborhood.

Lesson Number 3: Flashlights are probably not the only light sources you own. Put your kids to work and have them dig out all the munchkin sized flashlights they have gotten as prizes and those mini booklights they use to read under their blankets at night when they are supposedly fast asleep. A clip-on barbeque lamp has turned out to be the best birthday gift my sister-in-law has ever gotten my husband as it travels from room to room, particularly useful when you don’t want to shower in the dark, and a set of battery operated tea lights we bought as a decorative accent for my daughter’s vort five years ago were the perfect light source to illuminate both the stairs and the upstairs hallway.

Lesson Number 4: You can never have too many yahrtzeit candles in your house. While it is important to only light them on a non-flammable surface, far away from any flammable objects, and it goes without saying that candles are a serious hazard when there are small children around, yahrtzeit candles are easily moved, and with their flames generally confined inside their containers, are far safer than regular candles. Be warned that glass ones have been known to crack, with devastating results, so be sure to buy the metal ones.

Woodmere Shul Gets Post-Sandy Torah Gift from Kansas City

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

A Woodmere synagogue which lost four Torah scrolls in the chaos of Hurricane Sandy received a gift given in the spirit of Jewish brotherhood and Torah values from their kinsmen in Kansas City.

Congregation Ahavas Yisroel in Woodmere, which sustained heavy damage on October 30th, welcomed the donated scroll from Congregation Kehilath Israel in Overland Park, near Kansas City, at a special ceremony.

Congregation Kehilath Israel said it had several scrolls, and decided to donate one to a synagogue hit hard by Sandy.  Moreover, because of an upcoming replacement of prayer books, the pre-loved copies were also brought along as a gift to the Woodmere community.

Ahavas Yisroel reportedly lost four Torah scrolls, including one donated by a Holocaust survivor who brought the scroll with him to America after the war.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/woodmere-shul-gets-post-sandy-torah-gift-from-kansas-city/2012/12/04/

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