Last week I said that not much has changed in regard to anti-Orthodox and anti-Semitic sentiment in 25 years. But looking back at the events of 80 years ago, a lot has changed. As you can see in the video here, our New Jersey director, Rabbi Avi Schnall, delivered brief, but passionate remarks this week referencing a February 20, 1939 pro-Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden and what has changed in the intervening 80 years. He, and others, thanked the Ocean County Freeholders for unanimously passing a resolution opposing and condemning Rise Up Ocean County, a group accused of inciting animus against Orthodox Jews. The resolution was part of an effort led by the Simon Weisenthal Center (see here) to call out the group.
As we get closer to the release of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s budget, Rabbi Schnall asked residents of the state to please contact the governor about the need to maintain nonpublic school funding. Take action by making a call or writing an email to Governor Murphy.
Congratulations to my colleague, Rabbi Abba Cohen, on being named Agudath Israel’s Vice President for Government Affairs. The expanded title reflects his thirty years of service to the organization and his expanded role over the years. A few years ago, our shared alma mater, Ner Yisroel (Ner Israel Rabbinical College) honored Abba. I encourage you to (re)watch the tribute video here, including the special message from Senator Joe Lieberman.
Last week, we mentioned that the spending bill recently passed by Congress included a fully-funded Nonprofit Security Grant Program as we and others requested. Now that the bill has been signed, please take a moment and thank the members of Congress who voted for the package by clicking here.
If you live in New York City, you may have noticed that there is a special election on Tuesday for Public Advocate. A strong turnout is important, not only because it can determine the winner of the election, but because it shows all elected officials the political strength of the community. (Agudath Israel does not endorse nor oppose candidates)
Aside from voting, it is important to visit the Capitol and meet with legislators face to face. Rabbi Gelb of our California office is leading a mission to Sacramento on Wednesday while Rabbi Silber of our New York office is leading a large delegation for our Albany Day on March 6th (register here).
Watch our Illinois director of government affairs, Rabbi Soroka, briefly explain why these visits to the statehouse and meetings with legislators can be critical to legislative efforts.
State legislative updates:
- Agudath Israel’s Florida director, Rabbi Moshe Matz, was in attendance last Friday when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced his plans for a new Equal Opportunity Scholarship program to help low-income students attend a private school of their choice. The Senate Republicans unveiled their own plan this week for a Family Empowerment Scholarship. Working together with many allies, Rabbi Matz will be working to expand the current programs.
- In Indiana, the House advanced a budget bill that contained a modest, but welcome expansion of the state’s two private school scholarship programs and the school security grant program. The House also defeated an amendment (that we strongly opposed) which would have jeopardized the religious freedom and autonomy of all private schools in the state.
- In Maryland, Rabbi Ariel Sadwin testified against a physician assisted suicide bill.