Orthodox Union Praises Decision of US Court of Appeals Dismissing Challenge to Parsonage Allowance

Posted on November 13, 2014 In Press Releases

Contact: Roslyn Singer

November 13, 2014


Today, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, praised the decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissing a challenge to the law that gives clergy tax-free housing allowances. The Court said that the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the organization behind the lawsuit, did not have the standing to challenge the law.

The Orthodox Union joined with other leading Orthodox Jewish organizations to defend the constitutionality of the federal tax code’s “parsonage” allowance for clergy in federal court. The “Friend of the Court” brief was drafted by noted attorney Nathan Lewin.

Nathan Diament, Executive Director for Public Policy of the Orthodox Union, issued the following statement:

“We commend the decision of the Court to dismiss the case against the ‘parsonage’ allowance for clergy. Since the observance of the Jewish faith prohibits the use of transportation on the Sabbath and most Jewish holidays, congregational rabbis and other clergy members must reside within walking distance to their synagogues in order to serve their communities on those days. In addition, other pastoral duties often require clergy members to be “on-call” around the clock for their congregants.

“Clergy members of all faiths should not be penalized for living near their congregants nor should they be required to treat housing allowances provided by their congregations as disposable income. We appreciate that the Court of Appeals dismissed this suit for lack of standing, thus preserving this important policy for America’s clergy. We also thank U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew and the Obama Administration for their support of the parsonage provision.”

Click here to read the full text of the amicus curiae brief.