By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
Today, the Washington State Legislature will come to order for its 2021 session. Even before this week it was expected to be a session like no other—with our elected representatives carrying out their vital work almost completely virtually due to the pandemic. But the challenges will be greater than Zoom. Yesterday, Governor Inslee called up the National Guard in response to planned protests at the Capitol in order to ensure the safety of the legislators and staff who must travel to Olympia on Monday to start the session.
This past week has reminded us of the importance and vulnerability of a strong and healthy democracy, and the need to exercise our right to protest in a peaceful manner. The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle strongly condemns the violence and insurrection in Washington, DC this past week and expresses our gratitude to the elected officials, staff, and law enforcement officers who risked their lives to protect the sanctity of our electoral process.
Advocating for the Jewish community’s priorities will be challenging under these circumstances but your Federation will be fully engaged, in collaboration with our partners, to be a strong voice for Jewish Puget Sound on a firm foundation of Jewish values. We can only do this critical work because of support from generous donors like you. You enable our community voice to be heard in Olympia and we are extremely grateful. Thank you.
The Legislature’s work affects everyone in Jewish Puget Sound and the broader community—ensuring our collective health and safety, extending a helping hand to people in need, upholding human rights for all. The 2021 session will be especially critical. Fighting antisemitism, keeping our community safe, recovery from the pandemic, and rooting out systemic racial injustice are imperatives that require action. We will be there, virtually, every step of the way, to make sure that our community’s voice is heard on these and other high-priority issues that affect us all.
Our advocacy team has been preparing for the session for many months. In the fall of 2020, the Federation surveyed the community to learn which public policy issues mattered most to you. We received a record level of responses—thank you! Combating antisemitism, maintaining our community’s safety and security, and working towards racial equity were among the highest priorities. You can see the full results of the survey here.
The survey’s results have set the path for our community legislative agenda that the Federation, in concert with our partner organizations, will work to advance during the session. Our advocacy track record is strong. Last year, among other victories, our collective effort secured passage of legislation to fight online hate, keep courts open to all, and protect survivors of human trafficking. While the virtual nature of this year’s legislative session creates significant roadblocks to success, we will be as effective as possible in our advocacy.
Your engagement matters. It makes a difference when our elected lawmakers hear directly from the people they represent. While this year it won’t be possible to bring citizen advocates to Olympia for Jewish Community Lobby Day, your Federation will provide several opportunities for you to be a part of our advocacy team, including participating in bill hearings, virtual conversations with the Jewish Caucus, and action alerts when your voice is needed most .
Your voice and your support are ensuring a vibrant future for Jewish life. Thank you for all you do for our community.