Last Tuesday, Agudath Israel's Maryland director Rabbi Ariel Sadwin was a guest of Rep. John Sarbanes to attend the historic address of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a joint session of Congress.

Baltimore, MD - March 13, 2015 - On Wednesday, back in Annapolis, over 750 nonpublic school students from across the state joined in the advocacy rally for the Maryland Education Credit/BOAST Bill. The rally began with several short speeches to the entire gathering to energize the students before they went off to lobby their legislators. Among the speakers were, Governor Larry Hogan, Archbishop William Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Senate President Mike Miller, and Rabbi Ariel Sadwin. Representing the Jewish schools was a group of seniors from the Yeshiva of Greater Washington - Girls Division, led by Mrs. Sima Jacoby.

At the School Advocacy Rally (left-right): Rabbi Sadwin; Senate President Mike Miller; Governor Larry Hogan; Archbishop of Baltimore, William Lori; Senator Ed DeGrange.

On Friday, the House of Delegates held their hearing for the physician-assisted suicide bill. The hearing took place as a joint committee hearing, bringing the Judiciary Committee and Health & Government Operations Committee together for what was an eight hour hearing. Rabbi Sadwin delivered testimony on behalf of Agudath Israel, as well as on behalf of the entire organized Jewish community of Maryland - which included the state's three Jewish federations (Baltimore, Greater Washington and Howard County), emphatically opposing the bill and its assault on the sanctity of life.

Rabbi Ariel Sadwin and Rep. John Sarbanes after Prime Minister Netanyahu’s joint address to Congress.

This week in Annapolis, the Senate held its hearing for the physician-assisted suicide bill. Once again, the opponents of the bill presented a very strong opposition, casting unexpected doubt for the bill's chance of passing.

Rabbi Ariel Sadwin (left at panel table) testifying to a joint House committee hearing against physician assisted suicide  

On Wednesday and Thursday, both House Appropriations and Senate Budget & Tax committees heard testimony on the aging schools construction program. This item was removed from the state's capital budget after two years of vital allocations to the nonpublic schools. At the hearings, nonpublic school advocates requested that the funding - a modest, but nonetheless vital allocation - be reinstated to the capital budget to allow the program to continue. Much effort has been put forth by the nonpublic school coalition leaders, Agudath Israel's Rabbi Sadwin and Garrett O'Day of the Catholic Conference, to ensure the program operates smoothly for the nearly 300 participating nonpublic schools. Joining in at Wednesday's hearing to testify in support of the program, was Rabbi Yaacov Cohen of Talmudical Academy of Baltimore.

Rabbi Yaacov Cohen, executive director, Talmudical Academy of Baltimore and Rabbi Ariel Sadwin in front of the State House



Pro bono support network assists in freeing entrapped mother and children

Less than two weeks ago, Agudath Israel's Mid-Atlantic Regional director Rabbi Ariel Sadwin fielded a call presenting an alarming and bizarre set of facts. The caller wanted to know if Agudath Israel's pro bono legal services network could assist with freeing an American woman and her two infant children who had been entrapped in Israel by the children's father? Following two orders of protections, two arrests, a day- long hearing before the Israel Family Court in Tel Aviv and then proceedings before a rabbinical court in Bnei Brak, the mother and the children arrived safely back at home in the United States.

The mother, a US citizen and resident, traveled from the United States to Israel with her two young children, supposedly to make one last-ditch effort to save her marriage after nearly a year long separation from her husband. Unbeknownst to her, the father, an Israeli national, registered the young children as Israeli citizens, procured passports for them, and secured an ex parte order prohibiting the children from leaving Israel.

When the mother attempted to leave Israel with the girls, she was detained at the airport.  Various emergency criminal and family court proceedings ensued in an attempt to protect the mother and children and lift the prohibition order.  Attorneys Mitchell Silk and Joel Yacoob, members of the Agudath Israel's Legal Support Services division, prepared draft applications to the US State Department requesting repatriation of the children under the Hague Adoption Convention, as well as applications relating to the children in the New York Family Court.

The mother's Israeli attorney successfully argued before the Israeli Family Court to lift the prohibition order, only to have the mother detained once again with the children at the airport, this time due to a prohibition order that the father procured on an ex parte basis from a rabbinical court. The Israeli attorney was ultimately able to convince the rabbinical court that there was no basis for the prohibition order in Israel, thus ending the mother's and children's constructive entrapment in Israel.

The mother's Israeli lawyer actually escorted the mother and children back to the United States, where they are now safe and ecstatic to be home.