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NYC Jewish group was denied COVID-19 relief, rabbi says

NYC Jewish group was denied COVID-19 relief, rabbi says

They got bupkis.

While Joel Osteen and other US megachurches raked in millions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief funding, a leading Jewish group says it didn’t receive so much as a shekel.

The Rabbinical Alliance of America claims the Small Business Administration originally approved a $35,000 economic-injury disaster loan to the organization, but later reneged on the cash.

“I just question. I wonder why. I wonder if there is no respect for rabbinical organizations,” said Rabbi David Katz, director of the Alliance.

“And I wonder why wouldn’t an alliance of so many rabbis be priority number one,” Katz told The Post. “As the director of an organization, people always call me for help and I always try to help, but this time I wasn’t able to help.”

Osteen’s loan for Lakewood Church was granted through the Paycheck Protection Program, passed by Congress in March as part of the CARES ACT to provide pandemic relief assistance. A spokesman for the church told the Houston Business Journal the cash went toward helping 368 employees.

Founded in 1942, the Brooklyn-based Rabbinical Alliance of America was originally intended to assist immigrant rabbis acclimate to US congregations. In the intervening years the group has become an umbrella relief organization. They also operate a rabbinical court to adjudicate internal disputes with the community.

Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas secured millions in  pandemic relief assistance, intended to help 368 employees.
Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas secured millions in pandemic relief assistance, intended to help 368 employees.
Corbis via Getty Images

The group represents more than 900 rabbis across the United States and Canada. Katz said he had hoped to use the $35,000 to provide coronavirus relief to his members, many of whom were unable to pay the $125 membership fee this year.

“Since it’s an emergency, I would probably give as many rabbis as I can matzo for passover, or I would have tried giving it to the most families possible, $300, $400 for the holidays to buy shoes for the children or something,” he said. “I wouldn’t use a penny for office expenses.”

The loan was rejected due to “unverifiable information,” the SBA said in a letter, which noted “during the loan underwriting process there were one or more items that were reviewed that caused the SBA to question the validity of certain information you submitted as part of your application.”

Katz said he didn’t know what the problem was and made repeated efforts to follow up — but was given a runaround.

The Rabbinical Alliance of America’s loan application was rejected for "unverifiable information."
The Rabbinical Alliance of America’s loan application was rejected for “unverifiable information.”
J.C. Rice

“They have pushed me to everyone else. A woman on the phone told me ‘Rabbi Katz I don’t know what happened,’” Katz said.

A rep for the SBA declined to comment.

The rabbi group took issue with the windfall for Osteen’s church, tweeting, “We The Rabbinical Alliance of America applied for $35,000 and we got denied. We have over 950 Rabbis & community leaders in our Alliance who lost their income & we got nothing!”

Meanwhile, big bucks flowed for other religious institutions.

Manhattan’s Congregation Emanu El netted between $1 million and $2 million, while St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Islamic Center of America each hauled in between $350,000 and $1 million, records show.

Religious organizations netted at least $7.3 billion in federal coronavirus relief aid, according to Newsweek.

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Evan Lewis

With a knack for storytelling, Evan started News Brig about a year ago. Covering substantial topics under the Sports,, he helps information seep in deeper with creative writing and content management skills.

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