Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

03/09/2018 10:30 AM EDUCATION

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10:29:37 AM Start
10:30:00 AM SCR15
11:05:57 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
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Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invited and Public> --
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**Streamed live on AKL.tv**
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE EDUCATION STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         March 9, 2018                                                                                          
                           10:29 a.m.                                                                                           
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Gary Stevens, Chair                                                                                                     
Senator Cathy Giessel                                                                                                           
Senator Tom Begich                                                                                                              
Senator Shelley Hughes                                                                                                          
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
Senator John Coghill                                                                                                            
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 15                                                                                             
Proclaiming March 27, 2018, as Alaska Education and Sharing Day.                                                                
     - HEARD & HELD                                                                                                             
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SCR 15                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: MARCH 27, 2018:AK EDUCATION & SHARING DAY                                                                          
SPONSOR(s): SENATOR(s) HUGHES                                                                                                   
02/02/18       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/02/18       (S)       EDC                                                                                                    
03/09/18       (S)       EDC AT 10:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                          
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
AIMEE BUSHNELL, Staff                                                                                                           
Senator Shelley Hughes                                                                                                          
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Presented SCR 15 on behalf of the sponsor.                                                                
ROSEMARY LEBOWITZ, Representing Self                                                                                            
Hoonah, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SCR 15.                                                                                         
RABBI MENACHAM MENDY GREENBERG                                                                                                  
Mat-Su Jewish Campus                                                                                                            
Wasilla, Alaska                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SCR 15.                                                                                         
RABBI YOSEF GREENBERG                                                                                                           
Alaska Jewish Campus                                                                                                            
Anchorage, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT: Supported SCR 15.                                                                                         
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
10:29:37 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR   GARY  STEVENS   called  the   Senate  Education   Standing                                                            
Committee meeting  to order at 10:29  a.m. Present at the  call to                                                              
order were Senators Giessel, Hughes, Begich, and Chair Stevens.                                                                 
        SCR 15-MARCH 27, 2018:AK EDUCATION & SHARING DAY                                                                    
10:30:00 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  STEVENS  announced the  consideration  of  SCR  15 and  his                                                              
intent to hold and hear the resolution.                                                                                         
10:30:27 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGHES,  Alaska State  Legislature,  sponsor  of SCR  15,                                                              
said  this resolution  focuses recognition  on  the importance  of                                                              
values, character  development, and ethics as part  of a student's                                                              
education  in   order  to  become  engaged,   caring,  responsible                                                              
citizens.  Since 1978,  every president  has proclaimed  Education                                                              
and  Sharing  Day  to  honor  the  Rebbe,  Rabbi  Menachem  Mendel                                                              
Schneerson,  who dedicated  his life to  fostering the  importance                                                              
of   character  development,   compassion,   and  service.   Every                                                              
president  has   declared  this   at  the  national   level.  They                                                              
recognize  the importance  of  having  these discussions  and  for                                                              
communities and families to be aware of it.                                                                                     
10:33:24 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGHES   said  Rebbe  Menachem  did  the   first  menorah                                                              
community  lighting  in  Philadelphia.  She shared  that  she  had                                                              
joined Rabbi  Mendy Greenberg, who  leads the Jewish  community in                                                              
her  area,  in Palmer  for  a community  menorah  lighting.  Rebbe                                                              
Menachem rescued  many Jewish youth  from Iran during  the Iranian                                                              
hostage situation in  1979. He lived from 1902 until  1994. He was                                                              
born in Russia, now  Ukraine. He came to New York  in 1941. He was                                                              
considered  by many to  be a  genius. He  spoke six languages.  He                                                              
had  a love  for America,  but reached  out around  the world.  In                                                              
light of  International Women's Day  yesterday, she noted  that he                                                              
included young women in the education of the Torah.                                                                             
10:34:57 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGHES said  the  resolution is  not  telling schools  to                                                              
teach  a  certain  set  of morals  or  values,  but  to  encourage                                                              
families, communities,  and leaders of  places of worship  to have                                                              
discussions about those ideas with youth in the state.                                                                          
10:35:27 AM                                                                                                                   
AIMEE  BUSHNELL,  Staff,  Senator  Shelley  Hughes,  Alaska  State                                                              
Legislature, presented  SCR 15 on behalf of the  sponsor. She said                                                              
they are pleased to see many letters supporting the resolution.                                                                 
10:36:14 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STEVENS  said this  is the right  committee for  issues like                                                              
this.  One of  the  reasons for  public  education  is to  develop                                                              
citizens. He asked what does "rebbe" mean.                                                                                      
10:36:47 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGHES said  she is not an expert in  the Chabad Lubavitch                                                              
faith, but she  knows it is a  post that only one person  holds in                                                              
the  world. Rebbe  Menachem  assumed  the post  in  1950 when  the                                                              
prior rebbe passed away.                                                                                                        
10:37:24 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  BEGICH asked  for  an explanation  of  the Seven  Noahide                                                              
Laws referred to in the resolution.                                                                                             
10:37:47 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGHES  said they came  before the ten commandments.  They                                                              
are considered the basis of fundamental human rights.                                                                           
10:38:25 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STEVENS  said he  appreciates the  information and  history.                                                              
He  asked  how  many  presidents   had  proclaimed  Education  and                                                              
Sharing Day.                                                                                                                    
10:38:54 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  HUGHES said  every president  in every  year since  1978,                                                              
which now makes 40 years.                                                                                                       
10:40:08 AM                                                                                                                   
ROSEMARY LEBOWITZ,  Representing Self, supported SCR  15. She said                                                              
these values are  important for children. Hearing  of veterans who                                                              
come back  with trauma  and commit  suicide makes  her think  that                                                              
these  types of  values  are more  important  than many  educators                                                              
realize. Academic  training seems to  be the most  important thing                                                              
in  college,  but   values  and  character  building   are  highly                                                              
significant.  Alaska  has a  higher  rate  of suicide  than  other                                                              
states. In Alaska students need a moral compass.                                                                                
10:42:27 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STEVENS asked how many years she has taught.                                                                              
10:42:31 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. LEBOWITZ said she is still teaching. It never stops.                                                                        
CHAIR STEVENS  said academics are  important, but  teaching ethics                                                              
is also important.                                                                                                              
10:43:17 AM                                                                                                                   
MS. LEBOWITZ  said Rabbi  Mendy is  a good  friend of  theirs. She                                                              
recounted  that about  20 years  ago, she  was in  New York  City,                                                              
which was a  rare occurrence. That  week the New York  Times had a                                                              
Sunday supplement  on Rebbe  Meerschem, which  was the  first time                                                              
she had heard  of him. She noted  that Rabbi Mendy had  a personal                                                              
encounter with the Rebbe in his childhood.                                                                                      
10:45:30 AM                                                                                                                   
RABBI  MENACHAM MENDY  GREENBERG, Mat-Su  Jewish Campus,  Wasilla,                                                              
Alaska, supported  SCR 15. He said  so much emphasis is  placed on                                                              
preparing kids  to be  successful in  their material and  physical                                                              
lives.  For  many  reasons,  very little  emphasis  is  placed  on                                                              
character building  and moral,  spiritual, and ethical  awareness.                                                              
Today all agree  that to strengthen education from  the beginning,                                                              
a child should  know that being  good, kind, and honest  people is                                                              
the most  important thing. If the  main focus is to  be successful                                                              
in  careers,  everything  might  be  okay  to  become  successful,                                                              
including  cheating  and lying.  It  is  important to  bring  this                                                              
message  to parents  and  educators. When  people  pass away,  the                                                              
most  important  part of  the  eulogy  is  not whether  they  were                                                              
successful  business people,  but whether  they were good  people.                                                              
So much  attention is spent on  successful careers and  not eulogy                                                              
values, what really counts, what really matters.                                                                                
10:48:48 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STEVENS asked him to explain the term rebbe.                                                                              
10:49:16 AM                                                                                                                   
RABBI MENDY  GREENBERG said  the general  term rebbe means  rabbi,                                                              
teacher.  Every rabbi is  a rebbe,  but then  there is  the Rebbe.                                                              
The  Rebbe represents  a great  spiritual  leader, represents  the                                                              
leader  of the  Chabad  movement  and in  a  more  general way,  a                                                              
spiritual  leader of  all humankind.  President  Jimmy Carter  and                                                              
the Congress  felt it was important  to recognize his  birthday as                                                              
a date for  all of the citizens  of the United States.  His impact                                                              
and  his  message  resonate  with  all  people.  He  is  a  global                                                              
personality,  beyond the  Hasidic Jewish  group. He connects  with                                                              
everyone. Twenty-two  years after  his passing, his  message still                                                              
has   impact.    After   the   Parkland,   Florida,    attack,   a                                                              
representative  of the  rebbe  spoke to  the  governor of  Florida                                                              
about schools starting  the day with a moment of  silence to think                                                              
about the  morals and  values that their  parents would  help them                                                              
come  up with.  Statistics show  that  a moment  of silence  helps                                                              
calm children and  has a positive effect on academic  studies. The                                                              
Rebbe is a global leader who touches the hearts of all citizens.                                                                
10:52:47 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STEVENS asked him to explain the Seven Noahide Laws.                                                                      
MR. M. GREENBERG  said in their tradition, the  Seven Noahide Laws                                                              
are universal  laws given to  Adam and Eve  and to Noah  after the                                                              
great flood.  They are the bedrock  of any civilization.  The laws                                                              
of people  are only  as strong  as the  people are. People  change                                                              
laws as they see  fit, which is good, but there  must be something                                                              
beyond and above  people. For example, it is immoral  to kill, but                                                              
sometimes  people's  minds play  with  them and  tell  them it  is                                                              
sometimes moral  to do something  terrible. During  the Holocaust,                                                              
it  made  sense  to scientists,  professors,  doctors,  an  entire                                                              
progressive  country, that  millions should  be killed. When  thou                                                              
shalt not  murder is only  a human idea, it  is only as  strong as                                                              
the  people decide  to be.  When it  comes from  a supreme  being,                                                              
then it is never acceptable.                                                                                                    
10:55:48 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR HUGHES  asked him  to share  his personal engagement  with                                                              
the  Rebbe through  the  Sunday dollar  program,  as a  historical                                                              
10:56:47 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. M.  GREENBERG said  that the Rebbe  advocated charity  and the                                                              
idea that every  child should be a giver. A charity  box should be                                                              
everywhere. The  nature of giving is  to be always doing  good for                                                              
others. When  he was about  84 years old  in 1986, he  would stand                                                              
on  the street  for hours  distributing dollar  bills to  whomever                                                              
came. The  message of the  dollar was to  make people  an emissary                                                              
of his  with the message  that when two  people meet,  they should                                                              
do good  for a third.  Everyone could have  a short talk  with him                                                              
and ask  for a  blessing. When  Rabbi Greenberg  was one  in 1991,                                                              
his  parents took  him  to  the Rebbe  to  get the  dollar  before                                                              
moving to Alaska.  The Rebbe knew the family was  going to Alaska.                                                              
He gave  him a second dollar  to take to  Alaska to give  away. He                                                              
saw potential in every person, even a child.                                                                                    
10:59:58 AM                                                                                                                   
RABBI YOSEF  GREENBERG, Alaska  Jewish Campus,  supported  SCR 15.                                                              
He  said about  35 years  ago the  governor  then also  proclaimed                                                              
Education  and Sharing Day.  It is  probably going  to be  a great                                                              
blessing for  the state  to have this  inspiration. The  Rebbe has                                                              
inspired  thousands of rabbis  to relocate.  Rabbi Greenberg  came                                                              
to Alaska  from New  York with his  wife 27  years ago  because of                                                              
the inspiration of  Rebbe Menachem. The Rebbe inspired  his son to                                                              
return  to  Alaska and  start  the  Jewish  center in  the  Mat-Su                                                              
Valley. If  there are 7 billion  people in world, that  means that                                                              
God  thinks the  world needs  7  billion candles.  Taking out  one                                                              
candle  darkens the  entire world.  The message  of Education  and                                                              
Sharing  Day  is that  each  child  has  a  path and  mission  and                                                              
contribution. People  cannot give up  on one child, not  one child                                                              
can be  left behind.  Building the character  of children  is more                                                              
important  than being  successful  in a  career. Statistics  shows                                                              
that children who  come from good, happy homes and  have a mission                                                              
and direction  are more  successful. Then  the taxpayer  pays less                                                              
to  take care  of  people who  need  help. Happy  children  become                                                              
contributors to society.                                                                                                        
11:03:01 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. Y.  GREENBERG said families  with no direction  become burdens                                                              
on society  It is  much better  to educate  children to  have that                                                              
foundation in  their system. He  looks forward to being  in Juneau                                                              
March 21 to listen and receive the proclamation.                                                                                
SENATOR  HUGHES said  March 27 is  the date  of the  proclamation,                                                              
but  both rabbis  are  traveling to  Juneau  earlier because  they                                                              
won't be traveling during the Jewish holidays.                                                                                  
11:04:19 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. Y.  GREENBERG said  Rabbi Mendy will  be doing the  invocation                                                              
the week  before Education  and Sharing  Day, on Wednesday,  March                                                              
21, 2018.                                                                                                                       
11:05:00 AM                                                                                                                   
MS.  BUSHNELL   said,  to  answer   a  previous   question,  seven                                                              
presidents  have  proclaimed  Education  and  Sharing  Day:  Jimmy                                                              
Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W.                                                                     
Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.                                                                                           
11:05:27 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR STEVENS held SCR 15 in committee. He said he ordered a                                                                    
fiscal note and the expectation is that it will be zero.                                                                        
11:05:57 AM                                                                                                                   
There being no further business to come before the committee,                                                                   
Chair Stevens adjourned the Senate Education Standing Committee                                                                 
at 11:05 a.m.                                                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
SCR 15 Sponsor Statement.pdf SEDC 3/9/2018 10:30:00 AM
SCR 15
SCR 15 Ver. A.PDF SEDC 3/9/2018 10:30:00 AM
SCR 15
SCR 15 Support Letters_Batch01_08March2018.pdf SEDC 3/9/2018 10:30:00 AM
SCR 15