Action Alert: Demand Congress Pass FEMA Relief Legislation For Our Synagogues

Posted on February 11, 2013 In Blog

Help provide aid to over 200 synagogues (and other houses of worship) damaged in Hurricane Sandy and ensure that future aid is provided to our communities in the event of another natural disaster. This legislation will translate into millions of dollars in relief.

The OU-IPA is calling upon its national network of activists, synagogue membership, and community leaders to take the action requested below. The OU-IPA and its regional offices are ready to assist you with any questions relating to this national action alert.


Please contact your Congressman TODAY and ask them to support HR 592 – a bipartisan bill that will be voted upon this Wednesday. The bill will ensure that over 200 synagogues and other houses of worship damaged by Hurricane Sandy receive the federal aid they deserve.


  • After a disaster, FEMA provides funds to nonprofits to repair their buildings.
  • Current law is unclear whether Houses of Worship are eligible for these funds.
  • Over 200 synagogues and churches were damaged in the storm, yet they are the backbone to their community regularly, and are serving their communities in storm recovery.
  • Under current Supreme Court precedents, it is constitutional for houses of worship to be assisted through this religion neutral FEMA program.
  • HR592 sponsored by Reps. Smith and Meng will clarify that storm damaged houses of worship will not be discriminated against in the federal response.
  • Thank you


1) The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides nonprofit organizations with rebuilding funds after a natural disaster. But as the New York Times and NPR report, FEMA has denied rebuilding funds from otherwise qualified synagogues because the law doesn’t clearly list houses of worship as eligible.

2) We must clarify the federal law to ensure that shuls damaged by Hurricane Sandy – and any future disasters – are not denied the relief they deserve. This is consistent with current Supreme Court rulings.

3) Thanks to weeks of hard work by the OU and its partners, this coming Wednesday the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on legislation (HR592) to solve this problem.

4) The legislation is bipartisan – sponsored by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Grace Meng (D-NY), and supported by a broad coalition of groups including the Orthodox Union, UJA-Federation, American Jewish Committee, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and more.

To contact your Representative, please call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Simply ask for your representative by name and the switchboard operator will direct you. To find out who represents you, visit this website and input your zip code.