CRC’s annual Date With the State 2018 exceeds expectations

by | Feb 16, 2018 | Featured

How often are you asked by a state legislator for help with pushing his tax credit effort or guidance as to the current status of anti-Israel divestiture efforts? Probably not very often. But in my case, at last month’s statewide Jewish Advocacy Day in Richmond, I engaged with Delegate Glen Davis and other team members about issues such as these that are important to the Jewish community and a great conversation ensued. I always look forward to Hampton Roads’ annual Community Relations Council delegation, and this year was especially meaningful.

With a newly elected governor kicking off his agenda, and partisan politics at an apex, this year’s visit with local senators and delegates was particularly charged. We left the Sandler Family Campus bright and early on Tuesday, Jan. 30 via bus and made our way to Richmond. We divided into small groups and engaged in lively discussions with various Tidewater representatives in the House of Delegates and Senate.

The hottest issue we discussed was Medicaid expansion. Both Republican and Democratic representatives made their cases as to why Virginia should embrace or deny the program. Their candor and passion about this issue was palpable. It struck me that no matter where you fall politically, it was great to see firsthand Virginians’ commitment to democracy and debate.

Another issue we addressed involved the use of tax credits to bolster enrollment in local Jewish Day schools. We also discussed the need for increased funding for the Virginia Israel Advisory Board, which was well received by many delegates and senators.

After our meetings, all of the communities met in a nearby church to hear remarks from the Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Governor. Notably, Alyssa Muhlendorf from our delegation gave a rousing and eloquent introduction to Governor Ralph Northam.

What did I take away from this whirlwind day of policy talk?

I felt instantly close with my fellow lobbying team as we worked together to figure out how to best communicate our messages. Even though we were together just one day, it is always an honor to meet new people who are committed to improving the lives of others. I also loved learning about the process of how bills become law in the Commonwealth. In addition, I felt pride in being Jewish, as 175 people from across Virginia took the day off of work to unite to speak their minds about making Virginia a more tolerant, healthy, and prosperous place—not just for Jews, but for everyone.

I already look forward to next year.

For more information about the CRC and upcoming initiatives, contact Wendy Weissman, assistant CRC director, at or 965-6107.

– Bradley Lerner