Dear Friends, Supporters and Leaders of Agudath Israel:
Under the leadership of Agudath Israel’s chairman of the board Shloime Werdiger, a delegation of over 50 Agudath Israel trustees, national leaders from a dozen states and executive staff participated in a remarkable Leadership Mission to Washington this past Tuesday and Wednesday, March 7-8.
This is not the place to go into detail about all the Senators and Congressmembers we met, or the fascinating briefing session we had with leading officials of the new Trump Administration in the White House, or the incredible hour-long meeting we had with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in the conference room directly adjoining her office in the Department of Education federal building. (For more on that, please see the article the Washington Post published about our meeting with Secretary DeVos.)
As successful as the Mission was in promoting our community’s agenda at the highest levels of the federal government, perhaps the emotional highlight of our visit to the nation’s capitol came during our lunch meeting with Senator Orrin Hatch (R, UT) in the U.S. Senate. In my introductory remarks, I spoke about the Senator’s great friendship to the Jewish people and support for Jewish causes – including the concern he has shown for Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin, who is serving a grossly excessive 27-year sentence in federal prison.
In his remarks, Senator Hatch picked up on this theme. Describing the Rubashkin case as a travesty of justice, he declared his resolve to do whatever he could to help free Sholom Mordechai.
When the Senator concluded his impassioned statement, I called upon my colleague Ms. Leah Zagelbaum, Agudath Israel’s director of communications, to play a voice mail message she had received from Mrs. Leah Rubashkin, Sholom Mordechai’s wife, talking about how helpful Senator Hatch has been in advocating for her husband and giving great chizuk to the family.
The entire group then stood and said a kapitil Tehillim as a z’chus for Sholom Mordechai Halevi ben Rivka:
…מזמור לדוד ד’ רעי לא אחסר…גם כי אלך בגיא צלמות לא אירא רע כי אתה עמדי
followed by the tefila,
…אחינו כל בית ישראל…ויוציאם…ומשיעבוד לגאולה
Senator Hatch and his staff were visibly moved, as were all of our Mission delegates. It was a moment of great uplift, and great resolve.
On the eve of Purim, when we celebrate the miraculous journey of the Jewish people מיגון לשמחה ומאבל ליום טוב, through the efforts of hishtadlus within the בית המלך, may we soon share the wonderful news that our brother Sholom Mordechai has been released from his prison bonds – and that all of Klal Yisroel will rejoice in the ultimate redemption.
Gut Shabbos, and a freilichin Purim!
Chaim Dovid Zwiebel