For Jewish Dems
The National Jewish Democrat-
ic Council, created after the 1988
Michael Dukakis fiasco, is getting
a new look for this election year.
The group, the central address
for Democratic Jews, has all-new
professional leadership with
strong Washington experience
and a new mission that includes
funding for congressional cam-
paigns through affiliated organi-
zations and tightly focused
political activism on selected is-
This week, the group jumped
into the fray over a new law in
Florida allowing limited school
prayer. The bill passed the Flori-
da legislature and is awaiting the
signature of Gov. Lawton Chiles;
NJDC is hiring an activist to
work with a coalition of Jewish
and church-state groups to con-
vince Mr. Chiles to veto it.
The bill, part of an education
reform package that toughens
standards and sets higher re-
quirements for graduation, also
allows benedictions at school
events if they are "non-prosely-
tizing and nonsectarian" — a dis-
tinction NJDC and other Jewish
groups insist will be hard for kids
and school officials to make.
Tacking the prayer measure on
to a popular education package,
NJDC officials say, is an effective
strategy employed more and more
by groups like the Christian
"It's an important test case,"
said Ira Forman, the group's new
executive director. "This is some-
thing that's coming up in more
and more states; as a political
group, it's important that NJDC
stand up against groups like the
Christian Coalition that are pro-
moting school prayer."
Recently, the group added a
new political director with sub-
stantial Washington experience.
Amy R. Simon was political di-
rector of the Women's Campaign
And Stephen Silberfarb has
signed on as deputy executive di-
rector. He is a veteran of several
congressional offices, the Clinton
administration's Office of Per-
sonnel Management and the
American Israel Public Affairs
Sunday, May 19th, 1996
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