Jewish Advocates Get Face-To-Face Time With Sacramento Legislators

Jewish professionals and lay leaders walked the halls of the state Capitol on May 7 to advocate on behalf of the poor and the aging, and to voice their support for anti-hate crime legislation.

It was the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California’s annual Advocacy Day, with 160 participants from throughout the state visiting with legislators, chiefs of staff and others, seeking support for bills addressing these key issues.

“It’s their opportunity to have civic engagement, get involved and build relationships with their elected officials,” said JPAC executive director Julie Zeiser. “People find it eye-opening and are galvanized by the experience. They say, ‘This is how I can help make change in my community.’”

Before marching en masse from Sacramento’s Sheraton Grand Hotel to the Capitol, participants attended programs in the hotel ballroom, including a panel discussion on hate crimes and keynote talks by state Treasurer Fiona Ma and Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

Praising the audience for focusing on hate crimes, Becerra said, “California is a forward-leaning state that works harder than most states to advocate on behalf of hate crimes, but we are not immune to them. We all came on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

Other speakers included Rabbi Noah Farkas of Congregation Valley Beth Shalom in Los Angeles, who delivered the invocation; Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), who provided perspective on the current political landscape in California; and Lynn Bunim, JPAC chair, who set the stage by emphasizing the importance of citizens using their voices to effect change.