- Some of you, including the JTA Washington, D. C. bureau chief, were surprised to learn from our statement last week that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) also affects Jewish families. To read the JTA story that followed up on our statement click here.
- With Illinois passing a scholarship tax credit, pressure is building in other states to follow suit. In New York, Agudath Israel hosted a group of Assemblymembers on Wednesday to discuss this issue (see here). The following day, school choice was the main agenda item as dozens of faith leaders and nonpublic school representatives gathered in Jefferson City, Missouri for a meeting with Will Scharf, policy director for Governor Eric Greitens and other top staffers from his office. I attended the meeting in place of Rabbi Shlomo Soroka, our Illinois director of Government Affairs who has assumed responsibility for his former home state.
- Agudath Israel of California held a legislative breakfast on Sunday which brought together elected officials and community leaders in Los Angeles. Thank you to Dr. Irving Lebovics for hosting the event.
- While Hurricane Irma didn’t cause as much as destruction as originally feared, it still destroyed many homes and left millions without power. Our thoughts are with all those affected by Irma and those still recovering from Hurricane Harvey. Agudath Israel has provided financial assistance to Jewish communities affected by both hurricanes.
- One related issue that recently received increased attention is the difficulty of receiving FEMA funding for religious institutions affected by natural disasters. Agudath Israel has been fighting on behalf of our synagogues and schools for many years on this issue, and we are hopeful that we will finally see this resolved. In the words of Rabbi Abba Cohen, “It defies common sense or any sense of fairness to deny disaster relief to houses of worship, especially when zoos and other recreational facilities are eligible to receive such aid. When disaster strikes, the stability of a community’s houses of worship and other religious entities is vital to its spirit and morale and ultimately to its ability to recover.”
- With the holiday of Sukkos coming up, residents of one community in New Jersey will be able to observe the holiday properly thanks to the intervention of Agudath Israel.
- Finally, in an interview featured on HuffPost this week, I offered some networking and advocacy advice. Your feedback is appreciated!
Wishing all of our readers a happy and healthy sweet new year!