Last night I attended a Chanukah party. Not at a governor’s mansion like my colleagues in NJ and MD, but a small community affair. Noticing Joshua, a high school freshman, in the corner of the room, it reminded me of the day nearly ten years ago, when I told Joshua’s father that his son would be receiving a tuition voucher from the State of Ohio that would take care of his tuition bill for the next nine years. The man, with tears of joy in eyes, lifted me off my feet and gave me nine bear hugs, one for each year that his son would receive a scholarship.
Chanukah is very connected to education and school choice in particular. I encourage you to read the essay below penned by my colleague Rabbi Avi Shafran for EdChoice (formerly the Friedman Foundation) in honor of Chanukah two years ago.
As I perused this week’s newsletter, it seemed as if every piece was connected in some way to Chanukah. On the first day of Chanukah we spoke out against a UN resolution, which, among other things, referred to the site of our Holy Temple (which was rededicated on Chanukah more than two thousand years ago) as occupied territory. The letter from David about how Agudath Israel helped him when he risked losing his job because of his adherence to his faith was in stark comparison to the time of the Seleucids when Sabbath observance was actually outlawed. We are blessed to live in a country where religious rights are protected and thanks to the help of our pro bono legal network, David was granted his request for time off to observe the High Holidays. Lastly, I was encouraged to see that New Jersey is taking steps to add more security funding to protect our non-profit and religious institutions from those who wish to do us harm.
Please consider making a generous gift to Agudath Israel to help support the amazing work of our staff who are helping hundreds of thousands of children and families, especially the most vulnerable ones in our community.
If you donate before the end of the calendar year you get the extra bonus of a tax deduction, but regardless of when you do so, each donation will allow us to help many more Davids and Joshuas and spread the message of Chanukah throughout the year.