The theme of last week’s Agudah convention was Together We Will. Over the course of 72 hours I found myself inspired by the nearly 100 speakers and more importantly by the tens of thousands of attendees (in person and online). It was gratifying to know so many people were interested in understanding the challenges facing the Orthodox Jewish community and the potential solutions, and who are willing to work together with Agudath Israel and others to address the many issues.
On Sunday morning our government affairs team presented short stories which illustrated their diverse caseload and ways which community members can work together with our directors to help make a difference. A separate session featuring our New Jersey director Rabbi Avi Schnall tackled the issue of the reaction to the growth of the Orthodox community (here).
While all weekday sessions are available for viewing at www.agudahconvention.org. one session focused exclusively on dealing with the current political environment.
A special video presentation shown at the convention, We did, We are, We will, provided a glimpse into the past, present and future of Agudath Israel and included the thoughts of many prominent Jewish leaders including Malcom Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Please watch the short video and let me know your own thoughts and ideas. I’m hoping that you will be inspired to support our work either financially or by volunteering in some way.
I am sending this out on my way back Nashville, Tennessee where I attended ExcelInEd’s annual education reform summit. The event was an opportunity to reconnect with hundreds of advocates and policymakers including US Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. The Secretary spoke about the need to give more educational opportunities to students and, thanks to our Ohio director, Rabbi Yitz Frank, and a strong coalition, school choice is on the move again in Ohio.
In the area of religious freedom, Agudath Israel was encouraged by recent moves to protect religious freedom with regards to FEMA funding for houses of worship. and we will be closely watching next weeks Supreme Courts oral argument in the Masterpiece Cake Baker case for which we filed an amicus brief .