On Wednesday, December 12, 2012, 35 Rashi students and 24 Leo Baeck Students visited with MA State Representative Ruth Balser. Rep. Balser is Jewish, and graciously engages us each year in a visit that helps students consider what it means to be a Jewish lawmaker in a secular world. She took the students, all in eighth grade, on a tour of the state house, pointing out noteworthy sights and explaining similarities and differences between American and Israeli government.
Then students met in a hearing room where they discussed three different laws recently passed by the MA legislature and discussed how they would have voted on each law. The laws discussed this year included Melissa’s Law, the legalization of slot machines in the state and the Transgender Protection Act. Students reflected on how personal opinions as well as Jewish values would influence their vote. A few students from each school shared how they would have voted, then heard how Rep. Balser voted on each law. Students then engaged in Q&A with Rep. Balser, seeking to understand why she voted the way that she did.
This visit is a highlight in a week-long exchange between the Rashi School in Dedham and Leo Baeck Junior High in Haifa. The CJP Boston-Haifa Connection generously funds the exchange.