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Second Appeal Letter
PA ID# 073-USSYQ-00; Chabad Hebrew Academy
PW ID# 836; Bima and Art Scroll Library
April 4, 2006
Governor’s Authorized Representative
Office of the Director
Governor’s Office of Emergency Services
P.O. Box 419047
Rancho Cordova, California 95741-9047
Re: Second Appeal, Chabad Hebrew Academy, PA ID: 073-USSYQ-00,
Bima and Art Scroll Library, FEMA-1498-DR-CA,
Project Worksheet (PW) 836
Dear Mr. Jacks:
This letter is in response to your February 14, 2005, letter forwarding the above referenced second appeal on behalf of the Chabad Hebrew Academy (Academy). The Academy is appealing the ineligible determination for the replacement of chairs, a lectern, and other education related equipment within the Shul Temple (Temple) building, in the amount of $69,000.
The Cedar Fire was part of a series of wildfires that swept through San Diego, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties in the State of California from October 21, 2003, through March 31, 2004. The Cedar Fire started on October 25, 2003 and burned 280,000 acres. The fire destroyed the grounds, 21 modular buildings, and other structures of the Chabad Hebrew Academy (Academy). The Academy is a subsidiary of the Friends of Chabad Lubavitch, San Diego, California, and is an eligible private non profit educational facility, which serves 320 students from preschool through 8th grade.
FEMA originally denied funding for PW 836 based on the function of the building as a Temple. The Academy submitted an appeal on June 25, 2004, for $550,000, claiming that the contents of the Shul Temple building were eligible because the building was used for religious activities less than 10 percent of the time. The State forwarded the appeal to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on August 11, 2004, supporting $18,172 in costs for damages to the non-religious contents of the Temple. The State also provided a table showing the multipurpose uses of the Temple by hours per day, demonstrating that the Temple was used for non-religious purposes over 90 percent of the time.
FEMA determined that the Temple building was used for primarily educational purposes, in accordance with Recovery Policy 9521.3, Private Nonprofit Facility (PNP) Eligibility. After a review of the content inventory list, FEMA determined that most of the items in the Temple building were of a religious nature and therefore ineligible. However, FEMA approved $12,943.59 ($14,076 less $1,132.41 in anticipated insurance proceeds) in replacement costs for eligible equipment and furnishings.
The Academy accepted the FEMA Regional Director’s eligibility determination, except for the Bima and the Art Scroll library, for which it submitted a second appeal on
March 7, 2005, in the amount of $69,000. The State forwarded the Academy’s appeal to FEMA with its support on April 8, 2005. Additional information provided by the Academy explained that Bima was a Hebrew word for a platform and that it was used primarily for non-religious purposes similar to the overall uses of the Temple building. The Academy also argued that the Art Scroll library was a collection of books, while Jewish in theme, was not primarily religious in nature, and should be eligible under 44 CFR § 206.221 (e)(1).
The Academy provided additional information to FEMA regarding the nature and use of the Bima and Art Scroll Library. While the term “bima” generally infers a religious use, the Bima in question was a portable oak platform that was moved between classrooms for various multipurpose uses. According to the documentation submitted with the first appeal, the Bima was used for religious worship purposes less than 10 percent of the time and is therefore eligible. The books in the Art Scroll library are philosophical in nature and are part of a general education curriculum. While the subject matter in the books touches on religion, they are not inherently religious and are not used for any religious or liturgical purpose. Therefore the Art Scroll Library books are also eligible.
I have determined that the Academy is eligible for $69,000: $18,000 to replace the Bima and $51,000 to replace the contents of the Art Scroll library. Therefore, I am approving the appeal. By copy of this letter, I am requesting the Regional Director to implement my decision.
Please inform the Academy of my decision. My determination constitutes the final decision on this matter pursuant to 44 CFR § 206.206.
Acting Director of Recovery
Federal Emergency Management Agency
cc: Karen Armes
Acting Regional Director