By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
On these lazy, warm – and too smoky! – summer days, it’s safe to assume that most of us are not thinking much about the Washington State Legislature. But before we know it, autumn will be here, and that’s when the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle’s advocacy team will lay the groundwork for effective advocacy in the 2019 legislative session, which gavels to order in January.
What will we be asking our elected representatives to do on behalf of the community? This is where you can make a difference, by taking a few minutes to complete our Legislative Priorities Survey. As the major voice advocating for the Puget Sound Jewish community and our organizations in Olympia, we want to hear about the issues that you care about most. Your answers to this survey will directly shape where our team focuses their energy and priorities on your behalf this coming legislative session.
In last year’s survey, your feedback told us that fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of religious discrimination was the top priority. As a result, in the 2018 legislative session, the Federation worked to secure $100,000 for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to increase the number of schools in Washington State served by an enhanced No Place for Hate program (the ADL’s anti-bias education program) and $100,000 for the Holocaust Center for Humanity to create a comprehensive online encyclopedia of their educational resources to complement their teaching trunk program and reach more schools.
And, to advocate on behalf of the community’s other top concerns, the Federation worked to increase state support for vital human service programs that support Jewish Family Service clients, and helped pass legislation strengthening voting rights, working towards pay equity for women, and further preventing gun violence, just to name a few examples. Our successes also included securing funding for Camp Solomon Schechter to upgrade its aging infrastructure.
Effective advocacy takes hard work – it’s the product of reaching out and collaborating in good faith with our partner organizations, building strong relationships over years with influential lawmakers, creating a thoughtful and multi-pronged lobbying strategy, making nimble, savvy tactical choices during the session, a beehive where you have to expect the unexpected, and having the support and advocacy of community members like YOU who will participate in Jewish Community Lobby Day in March!
All of this focused work, however, would not be worthwhile unless it reflected your top concerns and the top priorities of our local Jewish agencies on whose behalf we advocate. Your participation allows the Jewish Federation to tell our elected representatives that voting for this bill or supporting that appropriation is what their constituents in the Jewish community want and expect – and that message will get their attention because they understand the Federation does its best to reach out and engage the collective!
One person can make a difference. A community acting together has the power to make a lasting impact on many people’s lives. The ethic of tikkun olam, repairing our world, is work for all of us. While you enjoy the remaining days of summer and look ahead to the High Holidays, please take a few minutes to complete our Legislative Priorities Survey. Your voice matters!