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In a 79-36 vote, the Florida House overwhelmingly passed House Bill 7045 this morning.  The bill aims to consolidate Florida's scholarship programs for special  needs students and expand the state’s means-tested scholarship program to middle income families.  
Agudath Israel of Florida expresses its sincere appreciation to the bill sponsor, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Representative Randy Fine (R- Palm Bay), and to House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R Palm Harbor) for their leadership on this issue. Most importantly, Agudah thanks the thousands of parents across the state who made their voices heard by calling, emailing, or visiting with legislators throughout the legislative process.
Florida’s school choice coalition is made up of many organizations including Step Up for Students, ExcelinEd, and the Foundation for Florida’s Future, all of whom have played a critical role ensuring that this bill and the broader issue of parental choice continues to have broad-based support. Agudath Israel looks forward to working together with its governmental and organizational partners to see this bill to final passage and implementation.


From 2001, Elbaz was artistic director at Lanvin, where he was credited with rejuvenating the brand, until he was sacked in 2015.  He had recently launched his own label, AZ Factory.  His business partner Johann Rupert said Elbaz had died from Covid. Mr Rupert praised Elbaz's "inclusive vision of fashion". He said Elbaz had "worked to realise his dreams of "smart fashion that cares".

Born in Morocco and raised in Israel, Elbaz went to New York to begin his fashion career, where he worked for designer Geoffrey Beene.  In 1996, he moved to Paris to take up the reins at Guy Laroche. He was selected by Yves St-Laurent to take over responsibility for the Rive Gauche brand, but was dismissed after the company was taken over by Gucci in 1999.

Vogue magazine said Elbaz "always imbued his work with such joy and put the focus squarely on making individuals feel special".  When he arrived at Lanvin, founded in 1889, it was a small fashion house mainly focused on menswear. Elbaz revived Lanvin and transformed it to focus mainly on women's fashion. His cocktail dresses, many of them featuring heavy zips, were widely praised.  His dresses were favored by Hollywood actresses, including Natalie Portman. Meryl Streep wore one of his gowns, in gold lamé, when accepting the Oscar for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady in 2012.


The leadership of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU), the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, recently issued the following statement in the wake of five violent attacks on synagogues in the Bronx in the past few days, including a new attack on the Riverdale Jewish Center on Monday.

The group calls for dramatically increasing federal security grants and law enforcement protection.

“We are horrified by the multiple attacks upon our community in New York, which occurred at the Riverdale Jewish Center, Young Israel of Riverdale, Adath Israel of Riverdale and the Chabad of Riverdale. These attacks are unacceptable and essentially amount to acts of domestic terrorism. We are grateful to the New York Police Department and its Hate Crimes Task Force for their efforts to stop these assaults; more must be done to keep such acts from occurring.

“One of the most important tools we have to keep our synagogues safe is the federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), which provides Jewish facilities and other nonprofits with grants to strengthen building security. Right now, we are working with bipartisan allies in the U.S. Congress to double existing funding for NSGP grants to $360 million so that more synagogues and other terror targets can better secure themselves against such vile hatred and assaults. We ask Congress to move on this important appropriation as soon as possible.”  

The Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which the OU Advocacy Center helped create in 2005, is administered by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security and provides grants of up to $100,000 apiece to synagogues and other houses of worship as well as parochial day schools and other nonprofits at risk of terror attacks. The funds may be used for security improvements to buildings and to hire security guards. The NSGP is currently funded at $180 million, and OU Advocacy has been working with Congress to double that amount for fiscal year 2022.


To address the pervasive and persistent food insecurity among veterans and military families, Craig Newmark Philanthropies announced a $100,000 investment in MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. The grant will support the national anti-hunger organization’s efforts to remove barriers and increase access to food and nutrition for veterans and military families.

Grant will fund efforts by MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger to establish robust nutrition and food security support for military families facing hunger

“We are grateful for Craig Newmark Philanthropies’ work to honor our national commitment to the veterans and military families who serve and sacrifice for all of us,” MAZON President and CEO Abby J. Leibman said. “No one in America should experience hunger, but it is especially unconscionable that so many of our nation’s veterans and currently-serving military families don’t know where their next meal is coming from. We look forward to collaborating with the Craig Newmark Philanthropies to further this critical work.”


      21-27 Iyar, 5781                                              May 3-9, 2021 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES--649th Web Ed.


Rabbi Moshe Matz, Ex. Dir. Israel of Florida, with House Appropriations Comm. Chairman Rep. Randy Fine , photo by Agudath Israel Electronic Archives

Sen. Maj. Leader & Sen. from NY

Charles Schumer

The Jewish Observer,

Los Angeles


It is no secret that as Sen. Majority Leader and senior senator from New York, Charles Schumer is a man whose time is not easy to pin down. But, putting down his trademark “flip phone” for a while, Sen. Schumer made himself available, between votes and phone calls from senators, to present at a webinar held by Agudath Israel’s Yeshiva Services department on funds and resources made available to Americans, and particularly relevant to the Orthodox Jewish community by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
Nearly 150 people participated in the call. From stimulus checks, to security grants, to money for yeshivas, Senator Schumer explained the details of each of the programs, stressing how important it is that these programs be known and utilized.

The Majority Leader also committed to continue working to ensure that federal and state guidelines make the funds as accessible as possible to yeshivas, shuls and other community charities.  

Ms. Christina Coughlin, Assistant Commissioner of the New York State Education Department, also joined the webinar to explain in detail what reimbursements and funds are available to nonpublic schools and yeshivas in New York State, and how the schools should proceed to get them.

“We appreciate all the work that Assistant Commissioner Coughlin does for the yeshivos and other nonpublic schools on a regular basis and thank her for taking the time to address the schools and answer our questions,” said Rabbi Yehoshua Pinkus, director of Agudah's Yeshiva Services.

Mr. Shlomo Werdiger, Chairman of Agudah’s Board of Trustees had warm words for the senator. “We thank Senator Schumer for taking time out of his busy schedule as Senate Majority Leader to join us and are extremely grateful to him for fighting for the interests of yeshivas and nonpublic schools, shuls and nonprofits.”

Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Agudah's Executive Vice President, who chaired the session, added, "What Senator Schumer did in moving this legislation forward and securing $2.75 billion dollars for non public schools was absolutely unprecedented and he deserves a world of credit."