Maryland State Sen. and Congressional candidate Roger Manno visited the Potomac, Maryland, community on Sunday night, March 19, at an event in his honor hosted by Jules Polonetsky and Na’ama Lewin.
Manno’s mother, Bea Scheinbaum, introduced her son at the gathering. She spoke about the hardships they faced living in New York City, including when her husband, Manno's father, suddenly passed away. After his passing, the family was thrust into a very serious financial situation due to their high-priced insurance and large medical bills. This is the reason, she explained, why Manno is so concerned with the healthcare system and running for office.
Manno then listed a few items that demonstrate his work on behalf of the Jewish community. He spoke about his security bill in the Maryland Senate that will assist with funding for local non-public schools and said that the current increase in anti-Semitism makes it a priority.
He also discussed a BDS bill that he sponsored in the Senate that would prohibit spending public funds on travel or membership fees for academic groups that boycott Israel.
When asked about moving the American embassy to Jerusalem, he said that he supported the move, noting that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and Congress long ago passed legislation calling for the move. He did question whether it could have been done more strategically. He felt that Jerusalem’s future should be negotiated between the Israelis and the Palestinians without being imposed upon by outside powers.
Congressman Jamie Raskin made a surprise showing at the event and spoke highly of Manno’s ability and moral character, as well as his dedication as a public servant.
At one point, local lawyer Nathan Lewin (father of event co-host Na’ama Lewin) addressed Congressman Raskin about not supporting Lewin’s proposed “get bill” in 2008. The Maryland State Get Bill, intended to hold accountable those who separate from their spouses but refuse to give them a Jewish writ of divorce (get), was drafted by Lewin but disputed by then-state senator Raskin. Manno, who was a state delegate at the time, was one of the co-sponsors of the bill.
A former couple cannot marry anyone else in accordance with Jewish law without a get, even if they have a civil divorce, and the bill proposed that those who file for divorce would need to file an affidavit stating that they would not mount a religious opposition to remarriage. Lewin said that there are Maryland women unable to marry today who could have been helped by the bill. Congressman Raskin in turn stuck to his position, saying that this was a clear mixing of church and state.
“If rabbis for thousands of years couldn’t figure out a solution to this, how are the Maryland district courts supposed to figure it out?” he said.