Early morning dedication

I do not like waking up early. But shortly after 5 am this Wednesday, working on only 3 hours of sleep, I found myself at the offices of Agudath Israel of Illinois getting ready for their annual advocacy mission to Springfield . I was inspired to see (through my bleary eyes) dozens of men and women from across the Orthodox spectrum in Chicago, many of them under 40, dedicating their day to advocate on behalf of the Jewish community. I then had the pleasure of watching how each of the elected officials we met in the Capitol knew, and respected Rabbi Shlomo Soroka, who led the mission. A full recap with pictures will be shared next week.

We are blessed to have a great team of state directors. Our New Jersey director Rabbi Avi Schnall clearly earned the respect of his colleagues as he was recently named chairman of the New Jersey Department of Education’s nonpublic school advisory committee.

In Washington, President Trump exited the Iran nuclear agreement and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that she would review and amend agency rules, including those placing restrictions on financial aid to religious colleges and universities.

Much of our work on school choice requires grassroots engagement. On Tuesday, I joined Jim Cultrara of the NYS Catholic Conference for a presentation at a parent organizers conference

organized by EdChoice. It came one day after Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed House Bill 217 which expands the state’s scholarship tax credit program from $58 to $100 million. Unfortunately an effort to get the Connecticut General Assembly to study school choice failed to pass on the final day of session this week despite a strong push from a coalition of advocates which included the Waterbury Jewish community and Agudath Israel.

With Israel under attack from its enemies our thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters who have to hide in bomb shelters. We also applauded New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for announcing his upcoming solidarity trip to Israel.