NEW JERSEY - - Rabbi Avi Schnall, New Jersey director for Agudath Israel of America, was recently appointed chairman of the nonpublic school committee for the New Jersey Department of Education (DOE).

The committee is comprised of nearly two dozen representatives of the nonpublic school community in the state of New Jersey, including representatives from the Catholic Conference, Christian, Muslim and independent schools. The committee meets regularly with the DOE Office of Nonpublic Schools and considers policy and regulatory decisions pertaining to nonpublic schools. The committee gives the private school community an opportunity to meet directly with government officials responsible for oversight of their schools.

Rabbi Schnall has been a member of the committee for several years and negotiated substantial improvements in special education regulations due, in part, to his participation on this committee.

Rabbi Schnall appointment as chairman will hopefully enhance his ability to advocate on behalf of students in nonpublic schools and their families.


SACRAMENTO -- Allergan Inc. has agreed to pay $500,000 to resolve allegations the company knowingly sold defective Lap-Bands to health care professionals for use in procedures to assist patients with weight loss. The settlement also resolves allegations that Allergan provided kickbacks to health care providers leading them to submit false statements for reimbursement.

"Medical device distributers and health care providers have an obligation to place patient safety ahead of profits," said Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. "Concealing information about defective equipment and using misleading marketing practices puts patients' health at risk."

The Lap-Bands Allergan sold allegedly had defective access ports used in the implantation process on the patient-the company then concealed the defects by misrepresenting the cause of leaky ports to the FDA, the public, and health care providers.

Additionally, Allergan allegedly provided kickbacks in the form of sham advisory boards, speaking fees, proctoring events, surgeon workshops, and travel-related expenses. The kickbacks were provided to health care providers as inducements for performing unnecessary medical procedures, including banded imbrication where the stomach is folded and sutured.

On behalf of the State of California the commissioner recovered $500,000 from the settlement. In a separate settlement agreement, Allergan agreed to pay $3.5 million to the federal government for similar allegations involving Medicare fraud. The company does not admit wrong doing in either settlement.


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SACRAMENTO -- Amidst disturbing spikes in hate rhetoric and anti-Semitism, the State Assembly on Tuesday will consider a resolution by Assemblymember Marc Levine and the California Legislative Jewish Caucus to renew California’s commitment to Holocaust education and urge Poland to abandon a gag rule that facilitates revisionist history.

Assembly Joint Resolution 35 calls on Congress to urge lawmakers in Poland to reverse or revise a recently adopted law that threatens a three-year prison sentence to those who suggest Polish complicity in Nazi crimes against humanity during World War II.

The bill will be voted on Tuesday morning by the State Assembly,


The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB) recently applauded the introduction of bipartisan legislation to help tackle the rising anti-Semitism plaguing U.S. schools.  While anti-Semitism is on the rise across the U.S., the problem is particularly rampant on college campuses.
“The spike in anti-Semitic incidents in schools has forced Jewish students to face prejudice on their campuses, swastikas in their dorms and danger on their school grounds.  No student should ever be singled-out or harassed due to their religious beliefs,” stated Alyza Lewin, LDB’s chief operating officer and director of policy. “However, while educators, legislators, and civil rights advocates all recognize the problem and are deeply alarmed, those tasked with investigating incidents have been left without the tools to properly address it.  This bill provides the Department of Education with the guidance it needs to properly identify today’s manifestations of anti-Semitism, particularly those incidents that cross the line from protected anti-Israel expression to blatant anti-Semitic acts.”
The bipartisan bill was introduced by Representatives Peter Roskam (R-IL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Doug Collins (R-GA) in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Bob Casey (D-PA) in the U.S. Senate.  A similar bill was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate in 2016.
According to the FBI’s Hate Crime Report, Jewish hate crime victims, outnumber victims of all other religious groups combined. And the problem is most serious in U.S. schools. A Brandeis Center/Trinity College study found that 54% of Jewish college students reported experiencing or witnessing anti-Semitism in 2014. And a February ADL report found that anti-Semitic incidents in K-12 schools and on college campuses nearly doubled between 2016 and 2017.
In addition, a U.S. Department of Education report, released just last month, which at the urging of the Brandeis Center, for the first time, included statistics on religiously-motivated bullying and harassment in K-12 schools, found an alarming 10,848 incidents based on religion in 2015-2016. Recent incidents motivated by anti-Semitism include: a Jewish boy in Florida who was pinned down while  a swastika and a fake concentration camp number were drawn on his arm; in New York, a Jewish boy who was verbally harassed and had hot wax poured on his skin; and in Maryland, two Jewish students who were followed by two suspects shouting, “F*** the Jews” and then punched in the face.
Until a dozen years ago, the Department of Education declined jurisdiction in cases involving claims of anti-Semitism since statues only covered such traits as race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability.  In 2004, then head of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and now president of LDB, Kenneth L. Marcus, drafted a policy ensuring that Jewish, Sikh and Muslim students were protected from ethnic and ancestral discrimination under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  However, unlike in policies under which federal authorities investigate civil rights claims such as sexual harassment, this policy did not include a definition of anti-Semitism, leaving authorities ill-equipped to properly recognize anti-Semitism.  
The Brandeis Center has been advocating for many years to have Congress address this obstacle, and the legislation, introduced late yesterday, aims to do just that.  It provides federal authorizes with a clear and uniform definition to recognize anti-Jewish bigotry. The definition included in the bill is the global “gold standard” used to define anti-Semitism, and is used by the U.S. federal government to assess incidents that occur abroad. It is substantially similar to the definition that has been supported by the 31 governments that are members of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance; all 50 countries, except for Russia, that make up the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe; and the governments of the United Kingdom, Romania, Austria, Germany and Bulgaria.  It has also been adopted by the United Kingdom to use in colleges and universities.
Contrary to misunderstandings about the bill, the legislation does nothing to infringe on First Amendment rights. The bill will not regulate or restrict free speech or academic freedom by any means.  It simply provides federal authorities with a definition of anti-Semitism to be used to investigate behaviors that are not protected by the First Amendment, including assault, battery and vandalism.
The Brandeis Center helped pass a similar law recently in South Carolina, and is working with other states to pass legislation to combat rising anti-Semitism in U.S. schools.
The bill is also supported by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Simon Wiesenthal Center and the American Jewish Committee (AJC.)