Hosted by Agudath Israel —

Rep. John DeBerry (D - Memphis), Mike Stein (past president of Margolin Hebrew Academy), and Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey (R - Germantown) meeting with MHA Interim Dean Rochelle Kutliroff and Agudath Israel of America's national director of state relations, Rabbi A.D. Motzen.

Rep. John DeBerry, Mike Stein, and Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey meeting with MHA Interim Dean Rochelle Kutliroff and Rabbi A.D. Motzen.

On Monday, Rep. John DeBerry (D – Memphis) and Tennessee State Senator Brian Kelsey (R – Germantown) visited several Memphis Jewish institutions. The legislators first visited the local Jewish schools. They were very impressed by the high academic standards, the moral values infused into the curriculum, and by the community’s overall dedication to Jewish education. Although Rep. DeBerry had to return to Nashville, Senator Kelsey remained for a meeting with the rabbinic and lay leadership of the three Orthodox synagogues at the Baron Hirsch Synagogue. Rabbi A. D. Motzen, Agudath Israel of America’s national director of state relations, arranged the day’s visits and joined the elected officials on their community tour.

Tennessee Sen. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) meeting with rabbis and lay leaders of the Memphis Orthodox community to discuss Opportunity-Scholarships (L-R) Rabbi Joel Finkelstein, rabbi of Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth Synagogue; Marvin Rubenstein, president of Young Israel of Memphis; Sen. Brian Kelsey; Pace Cooper, president of Baron Hirsch Synagogue; Rabbi Aaron Feigenbaum, rabbi of Young Israel of Memphis; and Sam Chafetz, past president of the Memphis Jewish Federation and Margolin Hebrew Academy/Feinstone Yeshiva of the South Not Shown: Rabbi Shai Finkelstein, rabbi of Baron Hirsch Synagogue and Rabbi  A.D. Motzen, Agudath Israel's national director of state relations

(L-R) Rabbi Joel Finkelstein, Marvin Rubenstein, Sen. Brian Kelsey, Pace Cooper, Rabbi Aaron Feigenbaum, and Sam Chafetz. Not Shown: Rabbi Shai Finkelstein, and Rabbi A.D. Motzen.

The main topic of conversation throughout the day was the Opportunity Scholarship legislation sponsored by the two elected officials. The bill received Governor Bill Haslam’s support and was one vote short of passage last year, but Senator Kelsey expressed his optimism that the proposal would become law in the upcoming legislative session. Agudath Israel of America has worked closely with Senator Kelsey, Rep. DeBerry, and other school choice advocates for several years.