When the Montgomery County Republican Party sits down for its annual Lincoln Day dinner tonight at Indian Spring Country Club, with guest Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich, a new dietary option is on the menu.
Montgomery County Republican Central Committee chair Steve Abrams said glatt kosher meals from Stacks delicatessen, owned by Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, would be available to those who requested them. Abrams noted that the kosher option demonstrated that the Republican Party is serious about reaching out to the Jewish community, and wondered if the Democrats would be as accommodating.
Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee treasurer Simon Atlas said his organization has never had a demand for kosher meals from its members. He said his group's May 3 Spring Ball, also at Indian Spring, will have a "kosher-style" vegetarian option for those who request it.
Many Jewish groups are savoring a small but sweet victory after the Senate removed provocative language in a charitable aid bill.
Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) announced late last month that Republicans were eliminating from the Charity Aid, Recovery and Empowerment Act -- known as the CARE Act -- guidelines for government contracts to charities. Those guidelines would have allowed religious charities to receive government contracts.
That move has ended a deadlock on the legislation, which came to the Senate floor on Tuesday.
Most Jewish groups support the amended bill, which would create tax breaks for charitable giving by individuals and corporations.
The original proposal said government should ignore charities' religious symbols, missions or religious-affiliated boards of directors. That would have allowed religious charities to take government money while still discriminating in hiring or while evoking religious doctrine in their charitable work, Jewish groups warned.
President George W. Bush has already made moves to implement some of the initiative through executive order. "There was a concern that this bill would be seen as Congress ratifying what the administration was doing," said Richard Foltin, the American Jewish Committee's legislative director.
The bill hasn't yet been introduced in the House of Representatives, but Santorum has said any House version would not include the controversial provisions he removed.
The Orthodox Union was a strong supporter of the original CARE Act. Nathan Diament, director of the O.U.'s Institute for Public Affairs, said liberal groups -- including some Jewish organizations -- were "extorting from charitable organizations" by holding up the legislation.
"We decided it's more important to get the money out there to the needy, and we will fight this battle another day," he said.
No debates on Shabbat
A Democratic presidential debate originally scheduled for a Saturday morning has been moved so that Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) can participate.
The South Carolina debate is now slated to take place after sundown on the evening of Saturday, May 3. State Democratic Party officials said Lieberman's camp did not ask them to make the move, but changed the schedule to ensure that he could take part.
JINSA: New map needed
The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs is calling for revisions in the Middle East "road map" for peace.
"The road map serves neither America's purpose nor the purpose of peace in the Middle East," said JINSA executive director Tom Neumann. "It is full of flawed assumptions and impractical ideas."
Neumann said the plan's call for comprehensive political reform, a new constitution and free elections for Palestinians "totally unrealistic."
The Orthodox Union is urging members of the House Education and Workforce subcommittee to pass the Family Time Flexibility Act. The legislation would, among other things, make it easier for Jews to observe Shabbat and other holidays by providing employers with options for working out religious accommodation arrangements. For instance, the legislation would allow employees to work overtime hours and accrue compensatory time to be used at a later date.
Kudos to GW
George Washington University was one of four schools honored at last week's American Israel Public Affairs Committee's policy conference for its Israel-based education and advocacy programming. GWU also had the largest contingent from one school at the event, 32 students, and all were present to receive the award.
-- by Eric Fingerhut, with reports from Matthew Berger at JTA
This story was published in the WashingtonJewishWeek
on: Thursday, April 10, 2003