Congregation B’nai Avraham Awarded “Sacred Sites” Grant

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle reports that Congregation B’nai Avraham, 117 Remsen Street (between Clinton and Henry), Brooklyn Heights’ only Orthodox synagogue, has been awarded a $10,000 “Sacred Sites” grant by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. The funds will be used to assist in restoration of the facade of the 1850s vintage brownstone faced Italiante style building that houses the synagogue, which joins the Heights’ Grace Church as a Sacred Sites grant winner.

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  • Topham Beauclerk

    Splendid! Our tax dollars go to an organization that doesn’t pay any taxes.Religion certainly pays in the land of the free.

  • GHB

    Shut up, bigot! I thought we heard the last from you…

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com/ Claude Scales

    No tax dollars are given. The Landmarks Conservancy is a private non-profit organization that raises funds through donations: http://www.nylandmarks.org/

    I notice you didn’t make a similar snarky comment when we reported that Grace Church recieved a grant from the Conservancy.

  • Tony

    You’re wrong. On its website the conservancy “gratefully acknowledges the following … public agencies who made recent gifts of
    $1,000 or more.” Those public agencies include the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. http://www.nylandmarks.org/about_us/our_supporters/

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com/ Claude Scales

    I stand corrected. Some public funds are involved. Thank you for pointing out the danger of not going one click further to see who the “supporters” are. I deeply regret that this will give some pleasure to the vile Topham Beauclerk.

  • Topham Beauclerk

    Yes, Claude, I think we’d all agree that you have an interest in the matter.

    Did it ever occur to you that I might not have noticed your piece about Grace Church? I oppose tax-exemption for ALL houses of worship. Satisfied?

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com/ Claude Scales

    No. I notice that you’re often eager to comment disdainfully on any item relating to Jews or Judaism.

  • Anonymous Believer

    I don’t think ANY religious institution of any persuasion should receive public funds to restore their buildings. Not nobody not no how. I wish them well, but think that their congregations have the duty and responsibility to pay for the upkeep of their religious buildings. Period.
    I am religious, but I don’t expect that state taxes should be used to pay for my institution’s upkeep. It simply is not fair.

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com/ Claude Scales

    I disagree, and not just because Grace has received a grant. Some churches, temples or mosques are an essential part of the historic and architectural fabric of a community, and sometimes congregations don’t have the wherewithal to maintain them properly. I moved to the Heights in 1983; at that time there was a sidewalk bridge flanking St. Ann & the Holy Trinity. It’s still there thirty years later. I would gladly see some of my tax money spent to restore that magnificent building. If I were more affluent, I’d give them some money, in addition to what I give to Grace, on the condition that they use it for restoration.

  • Anonymous Believer

    You say that if you had more money you would give, but since you don’t you are perfectly willing to use tax funds. That is a slippery slope. You put the government in the position of aiding religion and that raises many constitutional issues.
    Let’s face it, there are some religions that discriminate against women and gays and teach intolerance toward others and there are some that do wonderful thinngs that make the world a better place. The government in a free society cannot and should not be in the position of picking an choosing which religion is worthy of government funds based merely on the condition of their buildings. It simply is not right that public funds can be used to do this on any condition with whatever strings attached.
    As an example, if taxpayer funds were going to a anti-gay anti-woman fundamentalist right wing anti-government creationist religion to fix their landmark church’s roof, I’d have a problem with that. To avoid this problem then, it is best for the government to just stay out of the issue. Why can’t you see the potential problem here?

  • Jorale-man

    I’m pretty sure the laws are clear on the question of how public funding is used towards religious institutions and it seems doubtful that any lines were crossed in this instance. It’s paradoxical that some of the Heights’s most impressive buildings are churches and yet some are in pretty ragged condition (i.e. St. Anne’s). As long as the public money is earmarked for physical upkeep and not towards the mission of the organizations, I’m okay with that. It benefits the neighborhood as a whole and helps all of our property values in turn.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlsiLOnWCoI Arch Stanton

    Giving religious organizations money to maintain their buildings does support their mission, by freeing up monies they would otherwise need to spend on such maintenance.

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com/ Claude Scales

    I’ve never much cottoned to slippery slope arguments. The appropriate lines can always be drawn, so long as there are reasonable people like me to draw them. :-)

    Seriously, to address your hypo about an anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-evolution organization (which I suspect I find just as distasteful as do you), I agree with Jorale-man’s comment. Yes, using some public funds to repair a building (and we’re assuming here that it’s an historically and architecturally significant building) would free up some funds for them to promote their ideas. Balancing the good of preserving the building against the possible harm, I’d say the equities are on the side of preservation. I say this partly because of historical context: at least in this country, the tide of public opinion (e.g. over 50% support for marriage equality, a portion which has been increasing year to year) is running against the “antis.” I know that, with regard to evolution, some polls show the trend going the other way, but heck, when even Kansas – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kansas_evolution_hearings – rejected a proposal to teach “creation science” as an “alternative,” I think that when push come to shove most people will choose to have their children taught good science.

  • Anonymous Believer

    Isn’t it better and more appropriate for the government to just stay away from giving tax dollars to religions? That’s what the founding fathers wanted and that is the safest course. All of your contorted arguments aside, I still don’t think tax dollars should go to religious institutions. It really is the best way. Religious institutions, after all aren’t taxed and that alone is a gift.
    Sorry, I don’t agree with you and it does bother me.

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com/ Claude Scales

    I think what the founding fathers wanted when they drafted the establishment clause was to avoid the creation of an American analogue to the Church of England; that is, a favored sect. In my view, so long as the government is not discriminatory in its allocation of resources for non-religious purposes such as building repairs, there is no establishment clause problem. What I’m concerned with is the preservation of the physical–architectural or historical–fabric of the community. To the extent that this can be done with private funds, so much the better. If not, I have no problem with government stepping in.

    I’d have no objection to eliminating the tax exemption for religious institutions and treating them like any other non-profit organizations.

  • Anonymous Believer

    Again, that does not eliminate the problem of government funds going to an organized religion like that Kansas Westboro right wing church. It is simply better for the government to stay out and avoid constitional issues. Let them hold a bake sale, have a flea market etc., but leave taxes out of the equation.

    There are many elderly people in the Heights that cannot afford to repair their homes and I don’t see them getting such generous grants. Also, wasn’t that building a private club before it became a synagogue? And how would everyone feel if a club were given a grant, which at least that would have been constitutional .

    I still don’t understand why you don’t see the problem of giving tax money to organized religions for whatever cause.

    Enough! This is like beating a dead horse.

  • Tony

    Claude, there’s no need to speculate about the prospect of our tax dollars going to an anti-woman, anti-gay, pro-evolution institution, since that is exactly what will be happening in the case of this synagogue. Orthodox Judaism’s views on these subjects are well-established. They are about to celebrate a holiday claiming the world is 5,773 years old, after all.

  • bklyn20

    There is a Hare Krishna temple at 305 Schermerhorn, near Nevins Street. It’s a 1930 building that is neither gorgeous nor heinous, in my opinion. There are concreted-in arched windows on the first floor facade. Should they get a grant, if they were to apply? I get the “save the beautiful buildings” argument, but what about the owners? Things are getting slipperier by the moment.

  • David on Middagh

    I’m no antidisestablishmentarian, but why quibble over a few grants, small in proportion to the work needing done and downright minuscule in the scheme of all repair grants?

    Anyone can find something tax-supported to grumble about.

  • bklyn20

    True, David of M, but I just wanted to illustrate that if you give money to one organization, you might be obligated to give to another — but then you knew that! Great S.A.T. word, by the way.

  • David on Middagh

    Yup, bklyn20, I love to use that sesquipedalian terminology. (Oh, boy.) But once commencement is instantiated, suspension proves intractable! It’s an oleaginous incline.

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com/ Claude Scales

    “Oleaginous incline”! You have my neverending gratitude for that.

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com/ Claude Scales

    A slippery slope argument was, you may recall, an important part of the argument against marriage equality. (“If you allow this, you’re opening the door to polygamy/polyandry, bestiality, and God knows what else.”) In a comment above, I was a bit facetious in my treatment of such arguments, but I do think they’re weak and usually pernicious.

  • bklyn20

    In civic matters, it’s important to hew to the rules as much as possible, provided those rules were democratically drawn and supported by the populace. (Sorry, I have to use my one-dollar words — can’t afford the larger denominations just now.) I brought up the Hare Krishna temple as a less inflammatory example. My apologies in advance to any Hare Krishnas reading BHB.

    If, say, one restaurant is allowed to use more than the approved number of tables on its sidewalk, but somehow no one is bothered by it, it’s a kind of “benign mistake.” But if another restaurant’s extra tables are seen as obstructive, or perhaps it’s just that the tables are on a busier corner? Restaurant # 2 can cry UNFAIR! and have a valid argument. Both are using public space, on sidewalks paid for by our taxes.

    I think that marriage equality involves the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Happiness can be found in viewing beautiful buildings, but I don’t think that historic windows in religious buildings automatically constitute a basic right that should be paid for by our taxes. We can also debate separation of church and state vs the fabric of the community all week, but oleaginous
    SSp?) it will remain.

    Unf

  • bklyn20

    Unf?

    Disqus and my phone are not a happy combination.

  • David on Middagh

    It’s unfair, isn’t it.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlsiLOnWCoI Arch Stanton

    There is a problem with your analogy: Sidewalks are indeed public space. However, they are not paid for by “our taxes”. It is the responsibility of the owner of property abutting the sidewalk to maintain it.

  • David on Middagh

    And for your blogging, Claude, we are sempiternally indebted.

  • http://selfabsorbedboomer.blogspot.com/ Claude Scales

    (Evinces facial ruddiness.)