Agudath Israel of America, a national Orthodox Jewish organization, applauds President Donald J. Trump for his endorsement of providing federal financial relief to houses of worship devastated by hurricanes and other natural disasters. The Office of Management and Budget’s recent supplemental hurricane recovery request to Speaker Paul Ryan explicitly notes the Administration’s support for legislation that would make houses of worship eligible for disaster relief funding.
FEMA’s denial of disaster relief to houses of worship – when zoos and other nonprofits receive such aid — has been a glaring inequity and indignity. Synagogues and other houses of worship provide vital services to their communities before, during and after natural disasters strike. And they are key partners in providing the spiritual and emotional strength to help those whose lives have been devastated endure through these most difficult of times. Houses of worship deserve help to get back on their feet – the sooner the better – and all will be served by it.
We are hopeful that the President’s endorsement and request will boost efforts by Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), and other cosponsors, to pass the Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act (H.R. 2405/S.1823), legislation that will amend current law to explicitly include houses of worship as eligible recipients of federal disaster aid. Agudath Israel is pleased to have worked closely over the course of many years with the bill’s sponsors in crafting and promoting the legislation, with the White House in helping to elicit its support for such a measure, and with the growing number of advocacy groups who are helping it find success.