SURFSIDE (CBSMiami) – It sounded like a pep rally for Gov. Ron DeSantis inside the Shul of Bal Harbour.
Applause echoed through the Surfside synagogue on Monday afternoon as he was joined by members of the Florida legislature and leaders in the Jewish community for the signing of two new bills.READ MORE: SW Miami-Dade Shooting Leaves 4 Injured, Including 2 Children
DeSantis was initially slated to speak at the synagogue at noon, but his plane was diverted from Miami because of bad weather and was forced to land in West Palm Beach. The governor finally arrived at the Shul of Bal Harbour at 2 p.m.
DeSantis signed House Bill 529, which requires Florida schools to hold daily moments of silence. It directs the principals of public schools to require teachers in their first period classrooms to set aside one to two minutes daily for a moment of silence. It expands the current law, which only encourages a moment of silent prayer.
DeSantis said, “We think it’s important that students have the ability to be able to reflect and pray. The idea that you can push God out of our classrooms, our founding fathers would not be part of that.”
The governor also signed House Bill 805, which allows volunteer ambulance services, including Hatzalah, a free emergency transport service to operate. It is critical for Holocaust survivors who have a fear of uniforms and being taken away. Members are trained to treat patients according to Jewish law.READ MORE: Report: Miami-Dade School District Misused $6M For Driver’s Ed Programs
DeSantis said, “This bill supports faith-based services in the state of Florida. They will be able to operate with lights and sirens during emergencies.”
Baruch Sandhaus of Hatzalah of South Florida said, “We have the ability to respond to 13,000 people in the state of Florida. Words can’t express how we feel about this dream team.”
Zalman Cohen, a resident of Palm Beach who joined hundreds of other people inside the synagogue, said, “This is a tremendous day here in South Florida. The House Bill 805 allows patients to be treated in the best way possible.”
Gov. DeSantis also touted his other initiatives, including $4 million in funding for Florida Jewish day schools, $1.35 million for the Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, $400,000 for the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach and $100,000 for the Holocaust Task Force.MORE NEWS: COVID-19 Testing Sites In South Florida
He also said in his first year in office, he signed an antisemitism law which was a timely note amid the recent surge in antisemitism cases in Florida. The Anti-Defamation League, which tracks incidents of hate, said there was a 40% increase in antisemitism cases in Florida between 2019 and 2020.