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“How did you know we were involved?”

That’s what a shocked Rabbi Moshe Matz, Agudath Israel’s Florida director, asked the customer service representative. Beatrice, working at a call center in California, had just finished helping Rabbi Matz with his phone issues when she surprised him by thanking him for his work on school choice, and specifically  in Florida. She explained that she struggles to make ends meet, but is passionate about  school choice, because “it’s the most important thing we could do for our kids.”  She follows the issue closely and recognized Agudath Israel’s name from news stories about Florida. Rabbi Matz thanked her and told her that he had just returned from the bill signing ceremony for Florida’s new school choice program. Beatrice was overwhelmed with emotion as she said, “it’s organizations like yours and people like you who are shaping the future of our country.”  While Rabbi Matz was just one of many advocates working on the issue (see last week’s article), I wholeheartedly agree with Beatrice. Thank you Rabbi Matz!

Rabbi Moshe Matz with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at the bill signing ceremony

In other school choice news, the Minnesota Senate included a scholarship tax credit program as part of a larger budget bill  that is  the subject of heated negotiations. We ask our Minnesota residents to click on the action alert sent out by our coalition partner, OAK, to let your voice be heard on this matter.  

School choice and Security. These were the two issues that brought Rabbi Ariel Sadwin to Harrisburg this week. After the Poway shooting, security has been a top concern in many cities. Agudath Israel representatives spoke at press conferences in New York City and Chicago, where Jewish elected officials,surrounded by faith leaders from across their communities, demanded an increase in security funding to help protect our vulnerable institutions. Along with my colleagues from New Jersey and California, I was interviewed by Hamodia in an article about security and houses of worship.

Staying safe also applies to our health. Agudath Israel joined with other community organizations to fight the spread of measles and is hosting a free vaccination clinic in multiple New York locations next week (see here). Our focus last month was on our Chayim Aruchim – healthcare advocacy division and I encourage you to watch the latest edition of Agudah Live interview, to gain a better understanding of how that division is making on impact on families across the country.

As part of his address at the White House National Day of Prayer event, President Trump listed the new regulations on religious accommodation in the federal workplace as one of the accomplishments of his administration. Rabbi Abba Cohen, our Vice President for Government Affairs and Washington director, worked on those regulations for the last fifteen years and describes here why they are so important to Orthodox Jews in particular. Rabbi Cohen had the honor of giving one of the closing benedictions (click here to watch) at the Rose Garden event and being seated at a table with the President and First Lady the prior evening at a dinner in the White House.

We began the week hearing the frightening news out of Israel – hundreds of missiles fired towards civilians and four tragic casualties. Agudath Israel expressed thanks to the Administration for supporting Israel’s rights to defend itself. Thankfully, a ceasefire was reached. However, we continue to pray for peace in the region and for the families affected by the recent rocket attacks.