Date With the State 2015

by | Feb 23, 2015 | Other News

The 2015 Tidewater delegation arrives in Richmond for the CRC’s annual Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day.

The 2015 Tidewater delegation arrives in Richmond for the CRC’s annual Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day.

More than 30 members of the local Jewish community traveled to the Virginia General Assembly in Richmond to be part of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Community Relations Council delegation for the annual Jewish Advocacy Day on Feb. 4. The Tidewater delegation joined with 150 Jews from around the Commonwealth of Virginia who were there to lobby on issues of concern to the Jewish community.

Brad Lerner, one of the co-chairs of the CRC’s Legislative Action Committee, led the Tidewater delegation.

The day began with addresses from the statewide elected officials Governor Terry McAuliffe, Lt. Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring. These talks were followed by policy briefings from Chuck Lessin, vice chair of the Virginia Israel Advisory Board, Aimee Perron Siebert, the CRC of Greater Washington’s lobbyist, and Richard Samet, former CRC chair of the CRC in Richmond, the Richmond Federation’s current president and frequent testifier at the General Assembly. After the briefings, the Tidewater delegation met with all of the region’s elected officials or their legislative liaisons, 20 in all.

Tidewater’s group of citizen lobbyists addressed a range of issues including social services and religious freedom. It also thanked its legislators for their continued support of the Virginia Israel Advisory Board (VIAB) and education tax credits. Regarding social services, the group encouraged the Delegates to support a bill drafted by Chief Patrons Delegate Peace and Senator Hanger to increase funding for the Public Guardianship Program, a program through which organizations such as Tidewater’s Jewish Family Services’ Personal Affairs Management Program are able to provide guardianship and conservatorship to a number of incapacitated adults across Virginia. On the subject of religious liberty, the delegation asked legislators to oppose a bill currently being considered which would vastly expand the range of public venues in which sectarian prayer would be permissible.

Legislators were thanked for their continued funding of VIAB and reminded of the incredible economic benefits this program has provided Virginia. The delegation also thanked legislators for their continued support of Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credits which increases private school access for children in need. This program has enabled local Jewish Day Schools Hebrew Academy of Tidewater and Toras Chaim to provide more than 100 scholarships in the last three school years.

The discussions with legislators were friendly and frank, and the group’s input was well-received by many Delegates and Senators. The Community Relations Council extended invitations to legislators to visit the Sandler Family Campus of the Tidewater Jewish Community and plans to find opportunities for continued discussion between members of the General Assembly and Tidewater’s local Jewish community.

Robin Mancoll, CRC director and Megan Zuckerman, CRC chair, made certain the trip was seamless and fun.

The Date With the State has already been set for next year. Mark your calendars for Feb. 2, 2016 and email with any questions or interest in participating.

by Jeff Cooper