By Aaron Gorodzinsky
Director of Campaign and Security Planning
The Community Relations Council (CRC) of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley hosted a candidates forum with Lisa Scheller and Susan Wild on October 13, giving them the opportunity to speak directly to our community on topics they may not have had a chance to address at any other public forum.
The forum was cohosted in person by the chair of the CRC, Bruce Reich, and me, and broadcast on YouTube to allow all members of the community to hear directly from the candidates.
What made our forum different from other debates the candidates have had this past few months was the opportunity for each to present without interruption. We designed the forum to give the floor to each candidate individually for 40 minutes, and we asked the same questions of each of them, allowing them to present their visions to solve some of the most urgent issues for our community.
Both Wild and Scheller addressed a question on the rise of anti-Semitism in our community and our country and shared their vision on how to combat this epidemic. They both shared their views specifically on the rise of anti-Semitism, discussed as anti-Zionism at college campuses across our nation, and what can be done by Congress to fight back against this hate disguised as free speech.
Both candidates also shared their concern for the physical safety of our community institutions and reiterated their support for the nonprofit security grant program, which provides nonprofit organizations funding for physical security improvements.
Switching topics, but bringing the same sense of urgency, Wild and Scheller shared their visions for the role the United States can play to fight against Iran, its nuclear ambitions, and the role its regime is playing in supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They both agreed on the need to address significant concerns before the United States continues to negotiate a reentering to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (aka the Iran nuclear deal).
When it comes to Israel and combating the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, both candidates shared their deep connections to Israel as the home of the Jewish people and rejected any calling for putting conditions on aid to Israel. They also showed enthusiasm for the new reality on the ground since the Abraham Accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain became a reality.
When answering questions from the audience, each candidate shared her distinct position on reproductive freedom following the recent Supreme Court decision on abortion, and what she is willing to support moving forward, presenting two very clear paths.
Finally, the candidates both shared a willingness to speak louder against voices inside their own parties when needed to reject hateful rhetoric and a willingness to work across the aisle for the benefit of our district.
You can watch the recorded forum on the Federation’s YouTube channel.