Rep. David Trone Addresses the Jewish Community at JCRC Event

From left: Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington Executive Director Ron Halber and U.S. Rep. David Trone at an event at B’nai Israel Congregation in Rockville on May 7. Photo Credit: Braden Hamelin.

U.S. Rep. and Senate candidate David Trone (D-MD) spoke at B’nai Israel Congregation in Rockville on May 7, delivering a speech to the Jewish attendees and answering questions where he discussed his background, Jewish connections, support for Israel and the policy positions he plans to target if elected.

The event was one of several programs that the JCRC has held over the past couple of months to allow the Jewish community to have in-person interactions with the major Maryland candidates running for the U.S. Senate.

Trone spoke at length about his family, how his wife and children are Jewish, and about the personal nature of the rise in antisemitism and his support for Israel. He also outlined his plans to deal with addiction, mental health and criminal justice reform.

“I’m trying to serve by a phrase many of you know well, tikkun olam. How do we repair this world? That’s what moved me to public service, not to be a politician. I hate that word. We’re public servants. That’s where we have to be focused and driven,” Trone said.

Trone began by sharing details of his childhood as a farm boy with a father who was “an abusive alcoholic,” meeting his wife while at Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and starting a business from scratch that eventually became Total Wine & More, where Trone amassed his wealth.

He followed that anecdote with an explanation that his wife had insisted that, if they were to be married, the children would be raised Jewish, a decision he said has led to some of his fondest memories and instilled a dedication to fighting for the Jewish community.

“This is personal to me. The people in this room understand that something that’s too often overlooked is the rise in antisemitism that exists across our nation and across the world. This isn’t new to Jewish Americans. Jews have dealt with hate speech and violence for centuries,” Trone said. “When I was elected to Congress, I devoted much of my time to be part of the solution.”

Trone spoke about the war in Israel and his steadfast support for the nation, calling for the removal of Hamas, the return of the hostages and for world leaders, especially those in the Arab region, to work together to promote peace and rebuild the lives of those affected by the war.

“This is the global crisis that needs a global solution. We need to rebuild Gaza. Give that region the hope for lasting peace. We need to guarantee the safety and security of Israel for another generation,” Trone said. “We can never forget that Israel isn’t simply a nation, it isn’t just some place on a map. It’s an enduring symbol of hope. A beacon that shines brightly to tell us that despite the struggles we encounter and the challenges we face, we can repair the world.”

Trone also delivered several domestic policy messages, with some of his focus on treating addiction and mental health problems by “standing up to Big Pharma” and corporations putting profits over the goal of helping people, providing better resources to help people deal with crippling issues.

The last policy position that he spoke on was criminal justice reform. He said that his company is working with several others to help 1,400 citizens returning from prison to get jobs and get back on their feet as part of a second chance — like one he gave his father after recovering from alcoholism.

“We can drive dollars to the Bureau of Prisons to train people for jobs. Give people the education so when they come out, they have a successful life. Because when folks come out, 8% is the recidivism rate if they have a job; it’s 75% recidivism if they don’t,” Trone said.

After the speech, audience members peppered Trone with questions that ranged from Israel to antisemitism to addiction, and the questions quickly became tense, with people trying to speak past their allotted time and asking questions charged with emotion that exceeded the atmosphere of previous JCRC Senate events.

One person asked how Trone would be better for the Jewish community than his opponents, while another questioned why antisemitism wasn’t a topic he spoke about on his website.

“I’ve got a 100% record with everybody. I’m a Minyan member of AIPAC. I’m a big supporter of Israel … I voted every single time with Israel. And I think that’s pretty important,” Trone said.

“Anyone who knows who I am knows that I stand with Israel. I stand with the Jewish community. You don’t have an Israeli flag outside your office unless you’re pretty clear who you are. That’s not a point I need to make,” Trone said.

JCRC Executive Director Ron Halber said after the event that the heightened emotion was due more to the antisemitism and increasing escalation of the war than Trone the candidate.

Halber added that with so much concern across the Jewish community, it’s important to have opportunities to hear directly from the candidates and inquire how their concerns will be addressed based on the candidates they choose to support.

“Every candidate forum that we have right now in every Jewish community has been very strong because they’re furious about the level of antisemitism,” Halber said.

“There’s going to be a low turnout election — the Jewish community will constitute an extraordinary percentage of this primary. It wouldn’t shock me if, in some of these congressional districts, if the Jews were up to a third of the primary; you’re going to see their reaction and you’re going to see total engagement. That’s the times we
live in.”

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