JCRC Director's Note

Advocacy Makes Our Community Stronger

Max Patashnik Headshot

August 18, 2022

The warm, pleasant days of August are perfect for slowing the pace a bit. There’s more time to reflect on past accomplishments and think about what’s in store for the busier months ahead.

Since your Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) launched our 2022-2023 Policy Priorities Survey(if you haven’t filled it out yet, please do!) I’ve been thinking a lot about our work advocating in Olympia and Washington, DC, for our local Jewish agencies and the broader Jewish community.

Advocacy is how we, together, secure resources that help Jewish organizations provide the human services and other programs that we all value. Advocacy is how we raise our collective voice on the big issues facing our community, such as fighting antisemitism and upholding civil liberties. Jewish values, like tzedek, tzedek tirdof (“Justice, justice, you shall pursue”) and lo ta’amod al dam rey’echa (“do not stand idly by”), are the foundation of our advocacy. 

The Washington State Legislature’s 2022 session delivered some significant wins for Jewish Puget Sound—accomplishments that reflected the priorities community members told us were important in last year’s Policy Priorities Survey.

One of the 2022 session highlights was the Senate’s unanimous passage of a resolution condemning antisemitism and hate crimes. At a time when antisemitic acts have reached an alarming high, it was critical to call out antisemitism and ensure that our community feels heard. We were! Twenty-nine senators on both sides of the aisle—over half the Senate—co-sponsored Senator David Frockt’s resolution and spoke in favor of passage.

Another accomplishment was securing $210,000 for the Washington State Jewish Historical Society to create a database for preserving for future generations the narratives and stories of Washington’s Jewish community. Restrictions on high-capacity firearm magazines, expanded social services for victims of human trafficking, and assistance for families In need to afford diapers for their babies were other notable achievements.

Now, your Federation’s JCRC is planning for the 2023 session in Olympia and keeping tabs on important federal issues as well. Earlier this summer, the JCRC adopted six policies on core issues, four domestic and two related to Israel. One such policy is Poverty and Food Insecurity. The JCRC is committed to building a more just and equitable society. With more families facing food insecurity, we strongly support a strong social safety net, including full funding for child nutrition programs.

Having policies like Poverty and Food Insecurity in place enables us to act quickly in making our voice heard, as is often necessary with fast-moving legislative proposals. With only a day’s notice, the JCRC signed on to a Northwest Harvest letter that supported key child nutrition policies in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act.

For shaping our 2023 state legislative agenda, we want to hear from you! Please take a few minutes to complete the Policy Priorities Survey. The survey results will play a central role in setting our advocacy priorities for the session and set us up for another year of success in our state Capitol.

And if you’ve already completed the survey, thank you. You have taken an important step toward ensuring our community’s voice will be heard!

Enjoy these last days of summer!

Kol tuv,

Max Patashnik
Director of JCRC and Government Affairs