Representative Jerrold Nadler is facing some criticism from Jewish groups today over his stance on the recent Congressional legislation that allowed for FEMA money to be spent on the repair and rebuilding of synagogues, churches and other religious houses of worship damaged by Superstorm Sandy, according to an editorial by the Jewish Press.
Yesterday, we reported that the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to approve the use of federal funds to help Sandy-stricken houses of worship of all faiths. The passing of the act is likely to face some friction in the Senate and the courts as it brings up important questions regarding separation of church and state.
Nadler was a vocal leader of the opposition to this bill, arguing that the use of taxpayer money to fund the reconstruction of religious buildings was unconstitutional. His stance did not go unnoticed by the Jewish Press, arguing that the legislation made “common sense.”
If Congress decides that it is in the public interest to bring about large-scale restorations, such as roof and sidewall repair, by what logic can one exclude religious institutions that are in exactly the same position as non-religious entities? After all, religious institutions are entitled to, for example, police and fire protection just like their non-religious counterparts.
While Nadler was on the receiving end of criticism, other politicians, who have been pushing for the bill, like Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz were pleased with its passage in the House, reaching out to his Facebook followers with this message.
Yesterday the House of Representatives passed the “Federal Disaster Assistance Non-Profit Fairness Act of 2013,” which would allow houses of worship to be included among the non-profit recipients of FEMA relief aid. I’ve been working on this issue with the Jewish Community Relations Council of NY and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce to help synagogues and churches apply for FEMA. Houses of worship impact our entire community and desperately need a helping hand to get back on their feet.