Over 300 Jewish Leaders Gather in Sacramento for JPAC Capitol Summit, The Largest Event of its Kind
Participants Met with 103 (out of 120) State Legislators to Advocate for Major Policies that Advance Community Security and Support All Vulnerable Communities
On May 9-10, 2023, the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC) convened over 300 Jewish professionals, lay leaders, and their allies from across California in Sacramento for JPAC Capitol Summit, the organization’s premier annual policy conference and advocacy experience. The two-day gathering included executives, board members, rabbis, professional fellows, and volunteers from dozens of Jewish organizations across California. Fifty students and young professionals also joined the conference. The delegation was 50% larger than any Summit in JPAC’s history.
Following two days of keynote speakers, educational panels, and networking events, participants went to the State Capitol for meetings with 103 legislative offices, representing 86% of the state’s 120 legislators. Advocacy efforts focused on four bills and three budget items that advance community security – including funding and expanding the state’s Nonprofit Security Grant Program – and supporting vulnerable communities – including building affordable housing, providing services to refugees, enhancing food benefits for low-income Californians, and preventing domestic and sexual violence.
Photos can be found here.
“The Capitol Summit was a testament to JPAC’s strength and its vital role in addressing the concerns and values of California’s Jewish community,” said Marty Schenker, JPAC’s Board Chair. “Last year, JPAC secured record amounts of funding from the State Budget for critical programs, including security grants to synagogues and other at-risk institutions, rebuilding Jewish summer camps destroyed by wildfires, and supporting aging Holocaust survivors. We built on that momentum with our largest and most impactful summit ever. At the same time, our needs have never been greater, as we confront unprecedented levels of antisemitism and vulnerable communities face a dwindling safety net. I, together with more than 300 attendees from throughout the State, was inspired by the Summit, which will have a huge impact in support of our community’s priorities, including funding for Holocaust and genocide education to and non-profit security grants to guard against both future and current levels of hate, and support for our most vulnerable communities, including recent refugees, unhoused people, and those in economic distress.”
“What makes JPAC so special is the diversity of our coalition, which was put on display at JPAC Capitol Summit,” said David Bocarsly, JPAC’s Executive Director. “We convened over 300 Jewish community leaders of all backgrounds, representing a beautiful cross-section of California’s Jewish life. Our delegation included leaders of dozens of major Jewish organizations that are working to combat antisemitism and hate, advance civil rights, and provide a wide range of social and human services to vulnerable Californians. We all traveled to our State Capitol to uplift a bold, impactful, and unified policy agenda. It was clear that the 103 legislative offices we met with were inspired by our commitment to our Jewish values and our ability to come together across differences. I could not be more proud of this growing movement, and I know that the impact of this year’s Summit will reverberate in the halls of Sacramento long beyond our two days together.
“Special thanks to the leaders of the Senate and Assembly, Pro Tem Atkins and Speaker Rendon, to co-chairs Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel and Senator Scott Wiener and the entire Legislative Jewish Caucus, and to all of our amazing legislators and experts who addressed the Summit and made it so special,” Bocarsly added.
The Summit was Headlined by the Leaders of the Assembly and Senate and Featured Nearly 50 Legislators and Expert Speakers
JPAC Capitol Summit featured keynote addresses from the top officials of California’s two legislative houses: Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President pro Tempore (“Pro Tem”) Toni Atkins. California’s two most powerful legislative leaders each expressed their resolve to fighting antisemitism and working in partnership with JPAC on social and human service initiatives.
Prominent Sacramento journalists Laurel Rosenhall (LA Times) and Dan Walters (CalMatters) held an informative conversation about dynamics of the State Legislature, and shared about the mechanics of the State Budget, leading to a major budget deficit this year.
Dinner with the Jewish Caucus
As part of the conference, JPAC hosted a dinner with the California Legislative Jewish Caucus. Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel and Senator Scott Wiener, Jewish Caucus Co-Chairs, spoke about how JPAC’s partnership with the Jewish Caucus has led to the increased success for Jewish community priorities in recent years. Since 2019, the Jewish Caucus and JPAC have secured over $250 million from the state budget for key priorities and have helped pass dozens of bills that support the security and prosperity of Jews and all vulnerable communities. In addition to Gabriel and Wiener, twelve other members of the Jewish Caucus attended and addressed the crowd.
Dozens of other legislators and experts spoke on panels throughout the Summit. A keynote panel featured leaders of other diversity caucuses in the legislature: Senator Nancy Skinner (Chair, Women’s Caucus), Assemblymember Evan Low (Chair, AAPI Caucus; Past Chair, LGBTQ Caucus), and Assemblymember Mia Bonta (Member, Black Caucus and Latino Caucus). They discussed the importance of working together and with the Jewish Caucus and community. Led by moderator Dan Schnur, the crowd responded to the diversity caucus leaders loudly and in unison: “We got your back!”
JPAC Capitol Summit also featured three breakout panels:
- “Jewish Social Justice in a Pluralistic World,” featuring Senator Caroline Menjivar, Assemblymember Rick Zbur, Bet Tzedek’s President & CEO Diego Cartagena, and LA Voice’s Clergy and Formation Lead Rabbi Jocee Hudson, and moderated by Jewish Funders Network’s Poverty Affinity Group Leader Rachel Sumekh.
- “The Jewish Case for Climate Action,” featuring Senator Ben Allen, Coastal Roots Farm’s Director of Jewish Life Cantor Rebecca Joy Fletcher, and CA Religious Action Center’s (RAC-CA) Lead Organizer Rabbi Julie Saxe-Taller, and moderated by Jewish Center for Justice’s Founding Executive Director Rabbi Joel Simonds.
- “Hate Towards One is Hate Towards All,” featuring Assemblymember Isaac Bryan, CA Commission on the State of Hate’s Chair Russell Roybal, and CA Department of Justice’s Director of CARE Catherina Nou, and moderated by ADL’s Vice President of the Center on Extremism Oren Segal.
Prior to her keynote address, JPAC honored Pro Tem Atkins with the Jerry Sampson Memorial Award for Legislator of the Year. She has been a champion for social services, a vocal ally against antisemitism and hate, and ensured that antisemitic content was removed from the state’s ethnic studies curriculum. She was previously the Assembly Speaker, and is the first person in 150 years to lead both houses of the Legislature.
Allison Gingold was honored with the Earl Raab Award for an instrumental lay leader. Allison served as JPAC Board Chair from 2021-2022, and Interim Executive Director in 2021 during JPAC’s Executive Director search process. She led JPAC through the tumultuous pandemic years and a leadership transition, and the organization emerged from her leadership stronger than at any point in history. She also served as the inaugural Capitol Summit Committee Chair in 2023.
The full program and list of speakers can be found here.
JPAC Capitol Summit was held at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento and at the Capitol Annex Swing Space, where the legislators have their offices while the State Capitol is under construction. The number of attendees, lobby meetings, and legislators who participated in the Summit each represent all-time highs.