Responsibilities or rights?

While abortion bans continue to move forward in many states, other states have expanded access to abortion. Agudath Israel’s position is more nuanced. We have opposed abortion bans that are too restrictive and, as we did this week in Illinois, opposed the codification and potential expansion of Roe v. Wade.  In an opinion piece in JTA, my colleague Rabbi Avi Shafran offers a Torah perspective on rights, responsibility, and choice in the context of the abortion debate. 

In the final days of the legislative session scheduled to end today, our Illinois director of government affairs, Rabbi Shlomo Soroka led several groups around the statehouse.  Faith leaders from Chicago traveled to Springfield on Wednesday to lobby for funding a nonprofit security grant bill and groups of parents met with legislators to request that the $100 million scholarship tax credit program remain intact. While the final verdict awaits a vote on the state budget scheduled for tonight, Illinois’ Governor JB Pritzker just announced that he has agreed to allow the program to receive full funding as long as the state budget also includes the statutory funding levels for public education. 

Faith leaders with State Sen. Ram Villivalam (D-Chicago)
Faith leaders with State Rep. Yehiel Kalish

In New York City, my colleague Rabbi Yeruchim Silber joined Councilman Chaim Deutsch and many others to advocate for kosher and halal food in public schools (see pictures here).

Bill signings: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill combating anti-Semitism while visiting Israel this week and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a new school choice bill into law last Friday.

And in late breaking news (and the reason the newsletter didn’t go out earlier), the New York State Education Department announced today that they have proposed regulations regarding the statutory requirement for substantial equivalency of instruction for students attending nonpublic. In response, Agudath Israel of America released the statement here.