Saturday, January 28, 2023

The Orthodox Union Advocacy Center brought 120 national and congregational leaders to Washington to advocate for several pressing national and international concerns.

The group met with senators, congressmen, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. The OU members expressed their support for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, which helps synagogues and day schools as well as other institutional organizations make their buildings more secure; the proposed Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act, which will help nonprofits make their buildings more energy efficient and lower their operating costs and the advancement of Israel’s security.

With less than a month remaining until the June 30 deadline for a deal between the U.S. and its allies and the Iranian regime, U.S. Senators and Representatives as well as White House Chief of Staff McDonough insisted—throughout Wednesday’s Orthodox Union Leadership Mission in Washington, D.C.—that any deal with Iran must be verifiable and prevent the regime from developing nuclear weapons.

Ambassador Dermer opened the program with a briefing on Iran. “There is only one true existential threat to Israel—the Iranian regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons,” he said. Amb. Dermer explained that Israel’s concern about the deal is not that the Iranian regime will violate the terms of the deal, but that they will comply with the deal while continuing to develop ballistic missiles. In a decade, they’ll have a stockpile of ballistic missiles, and “no constraints” on their nuclear weapons program.

The delegates—who represented nine states—met in small groups with 30 Members of Congress, including Steny Hoyer, the Democratic Whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. At a luncheon in the Senate, the Orthodox Union delegation was joined by many Senators, including Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

The Orthodox leaders then travelled to the White House where they met with Chief of Staff McDonough and focused primarily on the Iran negotiations. They also met with Dept. of Homeland Security Undersecretary Frank Taylor to discuss homeland security issues of concern to the Jewish community. The Orthodox Union closed its productive day of meetings with a focus on the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe, with a meeting with French Ambassador to the U.S. Gerard Araud.

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