By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
Once a year, dozens of community members meet with our state legislators on Jewish Community Lobby Day. We educate lawmakers and advocate for legislation addressing the issues that matter most to Jewish Puget Sound.
To everyone who took part in Jewish Community Lobby Day this year—thank you! You made a big difference! Every bill for which we spoke up was enacted into law and every funding request we made was included in the state’s budget. This year’s success is a testament to the strength and effectiveness of the advocacy work that your Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council carries out, thanks to the generous support of people like you.
I want to share some of the wins that, together, we secured in this year’s session of the Washington State Legislature. There were significant accomplishments, even though in even-numbered years like 2022 the Legislature is only in session for 60 days. Time is short for lawmakers to do their work and for advocates to make their case for legislation, especially in a virtual session vulnerable to Zoom fatigue.
A highlight was the state Senate’s unanimous passage of a resolution calling out antisemitism and resolving to fight this ancient hatred in all its forms, protect Washington’s Jewish community, and uphold our country’s values as a tolerant and pluralistic society. Our advocacy team worked with Senator David Frockt to draft the resolution, which over 75 percent of the Senate either co-sponsored or rose to speak in favor of! Co-sponsors ranged across the political spectrum, a gratifyingly broad show of support for our community at a time when antisemitic incidents and hate crimes are increasing here and across the U.S.
Other session highlights were centered on the state budget; it’s how values are translated into concrete action. For our community, the Legislature’s approval of $28.4 million, a huge increase, to help all refugees, including Ukrainians fleeing war to restart their lives in our state, was a big win. Caring for refugees is rooted in our ethic of welcoming the stranger and has long been a priority. Our voice made a difference.
Another meaningful funding accomplishment that impacts us hyper locally was the Legislature’s addition of $210,000 to the state budget for the Washington State Jewish Historical Society to create a sustainable database of Jewish stories that would otherwise be lost. Jewish continuity depends in part on preserving stories about our lived experiences and sharing them with current and future generations.
Our Jewish ethic of tikkun olam, repairing our world, drives our support for legislation to support people in need and prevent gun violence. In the 2022 session, we helped secure passage of legislation to make human trafficking victims eligible for state-supported housing and medical services. Impoverished families with small children that receive public assistance will receive a benefit to help them manage the expensive cost of diapers. Access to high-capacity magazines that make semi-automatic firearms extraordinarily deadly is now restricted.
Our success on those bills and many others was the fruit of hard work building constructive working relationships with legislators, and helping them understand our community and the Jewish values that are the foundation of our legislative agenda. Most importantly, your support and your voice make possible the advocacy achievements that help Jewish life to thrive and keep our community strong. Thank you!