Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican candidate for president, addressed more than 1,000 Jewish Floridians on Sunday morning in Davie, Fla. for the annual Teach Florida Legislative Breakfast.
“You can count on us to stand for your kids. You can count on us to stand for educational choice. And you can count on us to do what’s right for the next generation,” he said.
Earlier this month, DeSantis chartered planes that helped bring nearly 700 U.S. citizens home from Israel. “No one else was willing to step up and lead, and so we did it,” he told attendees. “We’re proud to be leading on all of these important issues.”
He also addressed Florida’s school choice bill, signed into law in March, which provides about $8,000 in state funding per child that can be used for schooling, tutoring or other educational-related expenses.
“The governor of Florida has not only been a beacon of support for our Jewish community but has also demonstrated unwavering commitment to our safety, education and the fight against antisemitism,” said Melissa Glaser, executive director of Teach Florida, at the event.
Security concerns were also an emphasis at the event amid rising antisemitism worldwide following Hamas’s attacks on Israel on Oct. 7. DeSantis and Teach Florida coordinated to provide “additional support and resources for schools, synagogues and other at-risk targets in the state,” per the release.
“I’m wearing my yarmulke today. I’ll be wearing it on my flight later. My kids are going to Jewish day school tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that,” said Maury Litwack, founder of the Teach Coalition. “You’re not going to scare me with a ‘Day of Hate.’ You’re not going to scare our community. We’ve been together too long.”
Paul Renner, speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and Randy Fine, a member of the state’s House of Representatives, also spoke at the event. Renner addressed “the crisis in Israel, security resources for the local Jewish day schools, as well as a focus on the universal school-choice scholarship program passed earlier this year,” according to a press release.
Fine, a former Jewish outreach chair to DeSantis who has recently criticized the governor, also spoke about “his unwavering support to the Jewish community” at a donor reception, said Teach Florida.
A project of the Orthodox Union, the nonprofit Teach Coalition advocates for Jewish students in nonpublic schools, and represents about 90% of students and Jewish day schools and yeshivahs. In addition to Florida, Teach has chapters in California, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.