The U.S. Senate was stunned earlier this week when it was announced that Sen. Ted Kennedy has an inoperable malignant brain tumor. The youngest of the Kennedy brothers has been the center of legislation and policy for decades, as much because of the force of his personality as his pragmatism in making compromises to get things done. Veteran WashPost columnist David Broder summed it up in a column stating “there is no one else like him.”
From a parochial perspective, it must be said that the Orthodox Jewish community in the United States has directly benefited from Sen. Kennedy’s support and partnership over the years. Just in the past 15 years:
*We partnered with Sen. Kennedy to enact the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and then the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized
*We worked with Sen. Kennedy to amend the federal special education law to deliver greater access to services for students with learning disabilities in our community
*and we fought with Sen. Kennedy to ensure that all schools – including Jewish day schools – which took in students displaced by Hurricane Katrina were given federal support on the same terms as public schools.
For these reasons and more, we wish Senator Kennedy a refu’ah shleimah.