Posted on July 14, 2010 In Press Releases

Orthodox Union Facilitates Key Meeting between Attorney General & Lower Merion area Jewish leaders

Yesterday, leaders of the greater Philadelphia Orthodox Jewish community and Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Tom Corbett came together for a meeting facilitated by the Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs. The meeting was hosted by Rabbi Avraham Shmidman at the Lower Merion Synagogue in Bala Cynwyd, and was attended by representatives of most of the area’s major Orthodox synagogues and day schools including Rabbi Yonah Gross of Congregation Beth Hamedrosh, an OU member congregation and Rabbi Avraham Steinberg of the Young Israel of the Main Line.

Attorney General Corbett took this opportunity to relay to the Jewish leaders in attendance his personal vision for the future of Pennsylvania, with the Commonwealth’s children as his highest priority. He passionately stated that, “our children are our state’s greatest commodity,” and as governor he would fight to make Pennsylvania an attractive place to work and live.

Attorney General Tom Corbett remarked:
“Yesterday, I was privileged to meet with leaders of the Philadelphia Orthodox Jewish community at the Lower Merion Synagogue to discuss my vision for Pennsylvania, and the priorities of my campaign including job creation, education and government reform,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General and Republican candidate for governor, Tom Corbett. “I greatly enjoyed our dialogue and believe that together, we can move Pennsylvania back on the right track by lowering taxes on Pennsylvania’s families and businesses, ensuring our children receive a quality education and reforming the culture of Harrisburg by working in the best interest of Pennsylvanians.”

The Attorney General offered his full support for the Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC), a program that offers millions of dollars in scholarships to children across Pennsylvania attending non-public schools. After a $15 million cut in 2009, the EITC was stabilized at its $60 million funding level in this year’s budget. (Editor’s note: The Orthodox Union had as its highest priority in Harrisburg this year the EITC program and was part of a statewide effort partnering with the REACH Foundation, PA CAPE, the Catholic Conference, PA Jewish Coalition and others to maintain EITC at its current level.) As governor, Mr. Corbett pledged he would support not only restoring the EITC to its $75 million level but also to expand this extremely successful program that helps families and children in need.

Rabbi Avraham Shmidman of the Lower Merion Synagogue stated:
“Connecting with and advocating before our elected officials is a time honored Jewish tradition, one we have much opportunity – and responsibility – for in this country. We thank Attorney General Corbett for taking the time to visit our synagogue and community and to dialogue on the issues near and dear to our people.”

Finally, Mr. Corbett went on to lend his support for the inclusion of faith-based and non-profit communities in state energy programs, calling it “common sense” that no sector be excluded from such initiatives that both help the environment and save money. Finally, in response to several questions on the subject, Mr. Corbett indicated that the state and the governor’s office in particular must play a stronger role in the homeland security of Pennsylvania. As governor he would hope to both streamline the Commonwealth’s homeland security efforts and institute more proactive security policies.

Howie Beigelman, OU Deputy Director of Public Policy stated:
“Decisions made in Harrisburg affects every Pennsylvanian, and we are gratified General Corbett took the time to meet our community leaders. His support of key programs, such as EITC, energy and security is encouraging and if he is elected, the OU looks forward to partnering with him in these areas.”

Rabbi Yonah Gross of Congregation Beth Hamedrosh stated:
“The meeting with Tom Corbett is the latest of several opportunities that has been afforded to me through the IPA to engage our political leadership. These meetings have inspired and empowered me to feel like I have a voice in government, represent an important constituency, and have a duty to let our voice be heard.”

Leaders of the Philadelphia Orthodox Jewish community with Attorney General Tom Corbett after their meeting at the Lower Merion Synagogue

Rabbi Avraham Shmidman (Lower Merion Synagogue), Rabbi Elchanan Weinbach (Head of School, Stern/Kohelet Yeshiva High School), Rabbi Baruch Lichtenstein (Principal, Torah Academy Girls High School), and Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett

Rabbis from the Philadelphia Orthodox community with Attorney General Tom Corbett

This meeting is part of a nationwide effort by the IPA to facilitate discussion between our community leadership and candidates for office. The OU has a long history of elected officials, candidates for public office and other notables speaking to their leadership, including Samuel Alito, Sherrod Brown, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Chris Christie, Alberto Gonzalez, Al Gore, Tom Kean, Jr., Carl Levin, Robert Menendez, George Pataki, Rick Perry, Dean Skelos, Bill Thompson and numerous members of Congress in recent years as well as surrogates of both McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden during the 2008 presidential election. The OU is a non-profit, non-partisan organization and therefore does not endorse nor support candidates. The OU has extended an invitation to the Onorato campaign to hold a similar meeting.