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January 21, 1994 - Image 58

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-01-21

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

News

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Jews Look Forward
To New Session

Washington (JTA) — With
reform of foreign aid and
health care topping the
agenda, Jewish groups are
looking ahead to an issue-
laden congressional session
beginning Jan. 25.
Jewish leaders gave high
marks to last year's produc-
tive first session of the 103rd
Congress, which saw the
passage of many domestic
bills near and dear to the
Jewish community and
resulted in continuing sup-
port for Israel's annual $3
billion in U.S. aid.
They expect this second
session to focus on new
legislation as well as wrap
up some unfinished business
from the previous session.
In general, "the second
session is busier than the
first" because the first ses-
sion contains a lot of "stage-
setting," said Mark Pelavin,
Washington representative
for the American Jewish
Congress.
One of the biggest trium-
phs for the Jewish commun-
ity last year was the passage
of a major religious freedom
bill that makes it harder for
the government to infringe
on religious practices.
The Religious Freedom
Restoration Act, signed into
law by President Clinton
last fall, was strongly back-
ed by a coalition of Jewish
and other religious groups.
This year, many of the
same groups are "building
on the landmark legislation
of last session," said Jess
Hordes, Washington repre-
sentative of the Anti-
Defamation League.
The groups are now back-
ing legislation, expected to
be introduced soon by Rep.
Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., that
would take the religious
freedom battle to the
workplace and provide
greater protection for
employees making religious
claims.
This "religious accom-
modation" legislation would
have an impact on religious
minorities seeking to
observe certain holidays or
wear certain clothing at
work for religious reasons.
Many Jewish groups are
continuing to support other
legislation currently in the
congressional pipeline, in-
cluding a bill that would in-
crease federal penalties for
hate crimes and a bill that
would protect people using

and working at abortion
clinics.
The ADL is also expecting
Mr. Nadler to introduce ad-
ditional legislation that
would broaden the remedies
available to victims of hate
crimes.
Like other Americans,
Jews are focusing on Presi-
dent Clinton's controversial
plan to revamp the Ameri-
can health care system, ex-
pected to be a major feature
of this year's congressional
session.
"Health care is going to

Mark Pelavin:
Spoke for the AJC.
dominate a lot of key com-
mittees" on Capitol Hill,
said Sammie Moshenberg,
Washington representative
for the National Council of
Jewish Women, a group cur-
rently studying which
health care provisions to en-
dorse.
The Jewish community
has its own special concerns
in this area.
• For example, the average
age of American Jews is
greater than that of the
country at large, and thus
the community would be
heavily affected by certain
provisions in the president's
health care package, in-
cluding payment for
prescription drugs.
Elaine Senter, national
vice president and Washing-
ton representative for
Hadassah, said one top
priority for her group was to
push Congress to approve
increased funding for
research into women's
health issues including
breast cancer.
And fervently Orthodox
Jews, who tend to have large
families, are concerned

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