I assume most of you have already heard about the sad events that happened yesterday in France. One of the main symbols of Paris, a functioning cathedral caught on fire and caused huge damage to the building. As an admirable act of solidarity, many started to offer donations, among them the president of a moderately religious Jewish group. Although I suppose many of us are also moved by this tragedy, I am afraid that Jews might not be allowed to contribute to the reconstruction of a place of avodah zarah.

Are there any sources discussing this issue?

What would be a religiously adequate act of solidarity?

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    Is the church active or it is a museum or something? I think even if it isn't it falls under "ואבדתם את כל המקומות". THeoretically, if we could separate the art and the religion in it we could participate in restoration, but since they are one I don't see any permission to spend money on a church, no matter how important it was.
    – Al Berko
    Apr 16, 2019 at 11:10
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    A public group donation is at least making some sort of public Kiddush Hashem / Darkei Shalom / payment for help when a Shul is attacked/burned. A private individual donation wouldn't have any such Heter.
    – Double AA
    Apr 16, 2019 at 11:59
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    From a Facebook post: The world is in shock at the burning down of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The מהר"ם מרוטנבורג authored a קינה that we say on תשעה באב. The קינה begins שאלי שרופה באש and he composed this קינה after the burning of the Talmud in the mid 1200's in Paris right in front of the Notre Dame. In the קינה he writes ולכן אשרי שישלם לך גמוליך, צורי בלפיד ואש, הלבעבור זה נתנך כי באחריתך תלהט אש בשוליך. Seems like today it was fulfilled .... Apr 16, 2019 at 13:09
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    @DoubleAA Unless a slew of individual donations of $18 becomes noticed and publicized...
    – Joel K
    Apr 16, 2019 at 14:59
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    @Avrohom it wasn't in the Place du Parvis the square right in front of Notre Dame, it was across the river and down the block at the Place de Grève
    – Double AA
    Apr 16, 2019 at 15:24

1 Answer 1


R. Moshe Feinstein tangentially mentions donating money to building churches in a responsum (Y.D. 1:102) about donating to federations that distribute to Jewish institutions:

והנה בפעדעריישאן שנותנין הגבאים גם למוסדות הכופרים כהא דשל הרעפארמער וקאנסערוואטיוון הרי אסור ליתן לשם כלל אף לא ממעות צדקה דנמצא דתומך במעותיו מוסדות המחנכים ילדים לכפור בעיקרי הדת שהם כמסיתים ומדיחים והוא כעוזר להם ומסתבר שגרוע עוד מנותן לעכו"ם לעזרם לבנות בית תיפלה להם דהתם ליכא הסתה והדחה אלא איסור לפנ"ע שאולי גורם בנתינתו שיעברו הנכרים על איסור ע"ז ואיסור מהנה לע"ז שאינו חמור כ"כ דהא איכא דפליגי על זה בע"ז דף י"ג והכא הרי נמצא שעוזר לאיסור מסית ומדיח שהוא איסור היותר חמור

And behold, the Federations where the stewards give even to heretical institutions, such as Reform and Conservative, one is forbidden to give them anything even not of charity money, because it comes out that his money would be supporting institutions that teach children to reject the fundamentals of the religion, for [the institutions] are like inciters and he is like a helper to them. And it is logical that it is even worse than giving gentiles to help them build their house of worship, for there there is no inciting; there is merely a prohibition of lifnei iver – since his donation might cause the gentiles to violate the prohibition of idolatry – and a prohibition of conferring benefit to idolatry which is not so serious seeing as there is a dispute about it in Avodah Zarah page 13. Whereas here [in the case of the federations] it comes out that he would be helping the prohibition of inciting which is a most severe prohibition.

Interestingly, in a different responsum (Y.D. 1:68) he cites some sources that it would even be permissible to help build a church. Though he then cites other sources that prohibit building, he maintains that drawing the architectural plans for the church is technically permissible. Here is his conclusion:

ונמצא שלדינא יש להתיר אבל עכ"פ מהראוי להתרחק מהכיעור אם אין בזה משום איבה דאם יש משום איבה הא משמע בתוס' דף י"ט ד"ה הגיע שאף לעשות תכשיטין לעכו"ם שהוא אסור מדינא היה מותר שהרי הוצרכו לומר דליכא איבה וא"כ כ"ש כשיש איבה שאין להחמיר כשמותר מדינא וכן אף באין לחוש לאיבה אבל הוא עני שצריך לפרנסתו אינו צריך להחמיר מאחר שמדינא מותר וכ"ש כשיש לו הפסד ממון כגון שעובד אצל אחרים ואם לא ירצה לעשות שרטוטים אלו יסלקוהו מעבודתו שאין לו להחמיר אבל כשליכא הפסד ממון וא"צ לפרנסתו וליכא איבה יש לו להחמיר ולהתרחק מן הכיעור שלא להיות אף מסייע רחוק לזה

And it comes out that according to the technical law we can permit it, but nevertheless it is proper to distance oneself from this unseemly thing if it will not cause enmity. For if it will cause enmity, it is implied in Tosafot [Avodah Zarah] page 19 s.v. higia that even to make adornments for idolatry, which is forbidden according to the technical law, would be permitted, for they needed to say that there was no enmity. And if so, certainly where there is enmity one should not be stringent if it is technically permitted. And so too even where there is no concern of enmity, but he is a pauper who needs to support himself, he does not need to be stringent since it is permitted according to the technical law. And certainly where it would cause him a monetary loss, such as if he works for others and if he does not want to draw these plans they will fire him, he should not be stringent. But where there is no monetary loss, and he doesn't need it to support himself, and there is no enmity, he should be stringent and distance himself from this unseemly thing, so that he shouldn't be even a far-removed help for this.

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