Earlier this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill requiring Florida’s public schools to allow for a moment of silence at the beginning of each day, before instruction begins.
DeSantis signed the legislation while at The Shul of Bal Harbour, a Jewish community center in Surfside, Florida. Principals in all public schools will be directed to set aside the moment of silence and teachers will be prohibited from making suggestions regarding the nature of the suggested prayer or reflection during the allotted time.
“It’s important to be able to provide each student the ability every day to reflect and be able to pray as they see fit,” said DeSantis. “The idea that you can just push God out of every institution and be successful, I’m sorry our founding fathers did not believe that.”
Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez praised the signing by saying it will “allow for religious freedom and allow for students to have a minute or two at the start of their day.”
Critics of the legislation, primarily Democrats, said it was really about pushing religion in schools.
“The Republican who sponsored the bill said that it wasn’t about prayer in school. (Of course it was!) But when you question their motives, or their honesty, it’s called a personal attack & deemed out of order,” said State Rep. Omari Hardy (D-FL-88). “No. The Republicans lie, and we need to call them on it every time.”
Florida is proud to support security for Jewish day schools, to advance Holocaust education in our schools and to stand against anti-Semitism.https://t.co/A12DGnuFtp
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) June 15, 2021
State Rep. Randy Fine (R-FL-53), the sponsor of the legislation, maintained the bill was not about pushing religion in Florida’s schools, but to give students an opportunity to reflect.
One of the other bills DeSantis signed was HB 805, which “ensures that volunteer ambulance services, including Hatzalah, a free emergency transport service operating in South Florida, can operate.”
“Hatzalah serves Jewish communities with religious sensitivities,” said State Rep. Mike Caruso (R-FL-89). “Many of their community members follow strict Jewish guidelines, only speak Yiddish or Hebrew, and some are Holocaust survivors whose religious beliefs mean that their preference is to be transported and treated by a member of their own community; someone they know. This bill simply allows orthodox Jewish paramedics and EMT’s to serve and treat orthodox Jewish members of their own community under the Jewish laws of life.”
DeSantis also touted the millions of dollars in funding to support Florida’s Jewish community and Israel from the Florida Leads Budget. Four million dollars are going to security for Florida’s Jewish Day Schools, $1.35 million for the Florida Holocaust Museum, $400,000 for the Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach, $100,000 for the Holocaust Task Force, $250,000 for the Florida-Israel Business Accelerator, and $1 million for “collaborative research, development, and commercialization of projects related to aerospace and other technology through a memorandum of understanding which Space Florida has entered into with Israel.”
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