Orthodox Union Hosts Meetings with Chicago Area Members of Congress

Posted on May 4, 2010 In Press Releases

Contact: Nathan J. Diament

Orthodox Union Hosts Meetings with Chicago Area Members of Congress

On May 2nd and 3rd, the Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs facilitated two meetings between the Chicago area Orthodox Jewish community and its United States Members of Congress.

On the evening of May 2, more than 200 community members turned out for a town hall meeting with U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky, held at OU member synagogue Congregation Or Torah in Skokie.

In her opening remarks, Rep. Schakowsky expressed her longstanding and personal commitment to Israel and discussed her many efforts in Congress in that regard.

In the Q and A session, the discussion was candid and civil as community members passionately expressed their concerns about the recent tensions between the Obama Administration and Israel.

Rep. Schakowsky expressed her strong belief that President Obama supports Israel and is working to have Israeli – Palestinian peace talks take place – for the sake of Israel’s long term interests. Rep. Schakowsky further spoke of a recent meeting with the president’s senior aide Dennis Ross in which she and other Jewish members of Congress pressed him on the need for the President to more clearly express his support for Israel and hold Arabs to account for their acts that undermine peace and security.

“I very much appreciated the opportunity to speak with the community at Congregation Or Torah on Sunday. As a Jewish member of Congress who has unfailingly voted with Israel, I genuinely believe President Obama is entirely supportive of the needs of Israel,” Rep. Schakowsky said. “My hope is that I was able to allay some of the concerns in the Jewish community about the sincerity of this president’s dedication to the State of Israel. I welcome a continuing dialogue with greater Chicago’s Orthodox Jewish community.”

The morning of May 3, the OU’s Institute of Public Affairs hosted freshman Congressman Mike Quigley at OU member Congregation Anshe Shalom in his downtown Chicago district. Congressman Quigley met with a group of a dozen leaders from the community and discussed a range of critical issues, including the US-Israel relationship, the efforts to thwart Iran obtaining nuclear weapons, the overdue time for the US to move its embassy to Jerusalem and more.

“As I’ve said on the House floor, I believe Israel is America’s most important ally and the friendship our two great nations share is one that we must continue to cherish,” said Rep. Quigley. “Spending time with the Anshe Shalom congregation only deepened my commitment to Israel and fighting to keep Iran nuclear-free.”

“We thank Reps. Schakowsky and Quigley for taking time from their busy schedules to hear from the Jewish community in Chicago on issues of concern,” stated Nathan J. Diament, IPA Director of Public Policy. “We look forward to continued conversation with both Members of Congress.”

This meeting is part of a nationwide effort by the IPA to facilitate discussion between our community leadership and their elected officials. 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.

Rep. Schakowsky addresses the crowd at Congregation Or Torah

IPA Director of Public Policy Nathan Diament (left) moderates questions at the town hall session with Rep. Schakowsky

Rabbi Zvi Engel of Congregation Or Torah speaks to the town hall audience