By Larry Gordon
Maybe it is the influence of our daily study of the details of the Yom Kippur service in the Beit HaMikdash that’s prompting this phrase, but, regardless, someone has got to take the bull by the horns.
We live in a period when special interest groups have a way of attracting the political limelight and drawing an inordinate amount of attention to their causes. This might be the only way to get important things done these days. And these days, the balance of power and the ability to influence policy require activism, which translates to a constant and consistent mechanism by which we communicate with our elected officials who need to know that we are interested and involved in evolving legislation on any number of issues relevant to our communities.
Recognizing the urgency of this reality, the Orthodox Union (OU), over the last several months, has taken the activist role in organizing conferences of constituents to meet with elected representatives to let them know just that—that we are involved and concerned about the direction of the country, which seems to be going in a downward spiral lately.
Rabbi Moshe Hauer, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, and OU President Moshe Bane have been extremely proactive in developing OUA, or Orthodox Union Advocacy, a program that demonstrates our involvement in matters of concern that run the gamut of issues.
I spoke with Rabbi Hauer on Monday about the progress of the program and its plans for the future. “It is essential that we show that we are an engaged electorate—that we are in touch, concerned, and that it matters to us.”
Rabbi Hauer points out that in addition to the discussion on the matter of U.S.–Israel policy, a good deal of these conversations have revolved around imploring members of Congress to speak out against anti-Semitism.
We talked about the matter of why it was important to note last week that Jewish members of Congress had to be critical of remarks by Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s that drew a parallel between terror groups like Hamas and the Taliban and Israel and the United States.
“That is true,” Rabbi Hauer said. “This should not only be a Jewish issue.”
But therein might lie an important part of this current problem. Attacks on blacks or Asians, or any other group, for that matter, are an American problem. How is it that anti-Semitic assaults are an almost exclusively Jewish problem?
And there is something even more unique about this brand of anti-Semitism that makes the active involvement of the OU so vital: When it involves Jews, the assaults are more often than not directed at those who are most visibly Jewish, and that usually means Orthodox Jews.
Until now, most of the sessions with members of Congress have been via Zoom meeting, but Rabbi Hauer points out that the number of in-person conferences will be increasing over the short term.
The interesting thing about Jewish life is that the matters of concern to our communities all seem to be connected. American support for Israel is connected to the way some fringe members of Congress react, which can generate assaults on Jewish institutions or even individuals. And those attacks lead to the conversation about the need for increased funding for security for our schools, shuls, and communities.
So whether it is on an organized level or it’s an individual effort, the key is that our elected representatives on all levels of government have to know that we care and are concerned about the state of affairs here on the streets of the United States. The Orthodox Union Advocacy program is an important addition to the key roles played by NORPAC and AIPAC in illustrating to our elected officials that we are watching closely and that effectuating relevant policies that impact our lives and our communities is our highest priority.
We met Fleur Hassan Nahoum two years ago in Jerusalem and will do so again next week when we are in Israel. You may not recognize the name, but keep it in mind because she is a rising star on the Israel political horizon.
Today she serves as deputy mayor of Jerusalem to Mayor Moshe Leon. Her portfolio is extensive, but one of the things you will be hearing about her in the next few weeks is that she is a leading candidate for chairperson of the Jewish Agency. If she wins that position she will be replacing the new president of Israel, Isaac Herzog, who was preceded by former Israeli MK Natan Sharansky.
So it’s an important job with big shoes to fill. If any one of the possible candidates is up for and qualified for the job it is Ms. Nahoum. Part of her Jerusalem portfolio includes relationships with foreign governments and the movement of embassies to the capital. Deputy Mayor Nahoum played a key role in the moving of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem several years ago.
More recently, Ms. Nahoum was chosen as the chairperson of the United Arab Emirates–Israel Business Forum, which, as the name indicates, involves coordinating activities between Israeli companies and the fairly recently opened markets in the UAE.
Fleur Nahoum was born in England and raised in Gibraltar where her father, Sir Joshua Abraham Hassan, served as chief minister and mayor. Her younger sister, Marlene, is a Gibraltarian member of parliament. Fleur moved to Israel in 2001, where she lives with her husband and four children.
Ms. Nahoum is a member of the Likud and is close to former PM Netanyahu. When we spoke two weeks ago, she said she was puzzled at how Naftali Bennett managed to become prime minister of Israel with just seven seats in the Knesset.
She feels that her many years in Jerusalem government and her life experience in England and Gibraltar have prepared her for the challenge to head up the Jewish Agency.
The Jewish Agency has a broad reach around the world. A great deal of its work takes place on American college campuses where, unfortunately, anti-Israel activities and anti-Semitism run rampant. The Jewish Agency is a mini traveling state of Israel, and here’s hoping that Fleur Hassan Nahoum will be the new face that serves Diaspora Jews into the future.
Nick Langworthy is the chairman of the New York State Republican Party. He was in the Five Towns earlier this week to meet and greet community leaders as well as to attend several fundraising events for Republican gubernatorial candidate Congressman Lee Zeldin.
Lawrence deputy mayor and political consultant Michael Fragin accompanied Nick to the 5TJT where we talked about politics in New York and Republican prospects for the future.
We reminisced about the week or so that we spent in Israel together in the summer of 2019 with former governor Mike Huckabee on a trip organized by Dr. Joe Frager. It was a great trip if for no other reason than the attendance of then-Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and former Congresswoman Claudia Tenney. Both were planning on running for a congressional seat; for Tenney it would be the second time. The great success was that both Claudia and Nicole won their races last November and are now important members of the House.
Right now the Republicans are out of power here in New York. Nick Langworthy’s job is to reverse that reality and for Republicans to begin the process of taking power back and rebuilding a crumbling New York State.
One of those big steps is to knock Governor Cuomo out of office if he does decide to seek reelection. Considering Governor Cuomo’s brazenness, Nick Langworthy will not be surprised if the governor runs again. Lee Zeldin would be a great governor and just the change that New York needs at this point in time.
Then there is the matter of a much-needed Republican comeback in the State Senate, where the first priority is to win enough seats to do away with the Democratic veto power. It was not too long ago that there was a Republican majority in the Senate. During those times there was greater balance in New York on just about all levels.
It’s time for a much-needed comeback. Nick Langworthy is ready to lead the way.
Read more of Larry Gordon’s articles at 5TJT.com. Follow 5 Towns Jewish Times on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for updates and live videos. Comments, questions, and suggestions are welcome at 5TJT.com and on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.