OU Advocacy’s Work in Albany

March was a very important month-particularly this past week-for New York Jewish day schools. If you haven’t been following OU Advocacy’s work in Albany, OU Advocacy’s New York team, led by Jeff Leb, conducted a “full-court press” in the New York Assembly and Senate last month on behalf of New York’s Jewish day schools. Their efforts paid off: on Monday night, the Legislature approved the New York state budget, which contains an unprecedented amount of funding for non-public schools.

Here is a snapshot of the allocations that benefit day schools:

As far as that aforementioned “full-court press,” OU Advocacy put forth a tremendous effort to build relationships between our state legislators and the Jewish community. Beginning with the Schools in Session initiative in the fall and continuing through the series of mini-missions in March-which brought delegations to Albany from the Five Towns, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Riverdale and Westchester-the Advocacy team created opportunities for our legislators to see our schools, to meet our community members and to really understand the challenges we face-particularly tuition affordability-on a personal level. In addition, through its Action Alert, more than 2,000 messages were sent to our elected officials during the last week of March urging them to support the legislative items in the agenda that benefit Jewish day schools.

Now that we have received this historic level of funding, our job is to thank the legislators who helped promote these initiatives and make them a reality for Jewish day schools. Just as persistent and consistent lobbying is important to our legislators, so is saying thank you. If you live in New York, I encourage you to contact our state legislators to say thank you for their unyielding support of Jewish day schools and the Jewish community. (In this spirit of hakaras hatov, I also thank Director of State Political Affairs and Outreach Maury Litwack, who is instrumental in OU Advocacy’s success in bringing constituents from our communities to various state capitals.)