OU Hosts Town Hall Meeting Between NJ Senator Menendez and Orthodox Jewish Community

23 Oct 2006


He declares he will always be “one vote” in support of Israel; states willingness to explore tax credits and other ways to assist parents paying for K-12 education expenses.

The Orthodox Union, through its Institute for Public Affairs, facilitated a meeting between the Bergen County Orthodox Jewish community and United States Senator Robert Menendez. The meeting, attended by approximately fifty community leaders and members, took place Sunday evening, October 22 at Congregation Rinat Yisrael, an OU member congregation in Teaneck.

OU-IPA Commission member Dr. Ben Chouake introduced the Senator, who discussed a range of topics including Iran, Israel, education, senior care and energy independence. The Senator spoke of his work as a Congressman to keep United States contributions to the IAEA from funding Iran’s Bushir nuclear reactor, as well as his work in the Senate with Republican Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania in pressing for passage of the Iran Freedom Support Act.

He stressed his 14 years of solid pro-Israel voting, despite representing a Congressional District with a large Arab American constituency, and told of leading a trip to Israel as House Democratic Caucus Chairman, so colleagues who had never been to Israel might better understand the danger Israel faces.

Sen. Menendez declared that support for Israel is in the “national security interest and the national interest” of the United States, and that so long as he is in the Senate he will be “one vote” in support of a strong, secure Israel.

Turning to domestic affairs, the Senator spoke of the need for more focused homeland security and target hardening, specifically for New Jersey’s “chemical coastway,” an area the FBI classifies among the most dangerous two miles in the nation.

Responding to a question from the audience, Sen. Menendez stated that though he opposes school vouchers, he supports exploring using the tax code to assist parents trying to pay for K-12 education, saying he looks forward “to working with the Orthodox Union and others” to discuss potential ways to assist parents making such choices.

Nathan J. Diament, the Union’s Director of Public Policy stated, “We thank Sen. Menendez for taking the time to meet with the Orthodox community for this frank exchange of views on the future of New Jersey and the nation and on matters of policy affecting our constituency and all New Jerseyans.”

Editors Note: This event constitutes no endorsement of a particular candidate for office. The OU previously facilitated a similar Town Hall meeting at Congregation Rinat Yisrael in July with State Senator Tom Kean, Jr., the Republican nominee for United States Senate.