Make your voice heard in Richmond: Date with the State 2023

January 19, 2023

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Wednesday, February 8, 7 am–4 pm

Anyone who has ever wondered if their vote impacted the outcome of an election or how their voice may influence the actions of legislators, should consider the special election on Jan. 10, 2023 between Aaron Rouse and Kevin Adams in the seventh district in Virginia Beach. The difference between the newly elected state senator Rouse and Adams was only 348 votes. It took only a handful of people who may not have previously voted to decide who would represent them in the Virginia General Assembly. In other words, everyone’s voice matters.

In America and Virginia—your voice matters. You have the right to vote and advocate for the issues important to you and the communities you inhabit. The Jewish Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater offers an opportunity with Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day, or Date with the State, to advocate on those important issues. This annual event allows community members of all ages to spend the day in Richmond with Jewish Virginians from throughout the Commonwealth, interacting with and educating delegates and senators about issues of importance currently impacting the Jewish community.

During Date with the State, participants will sit with their state delegate and senator to tell them about salient topics for the Jewish community—topics the legislators will vote on during the current legislative session. Some topics that are on the agenda for the 2023 regular session are issues pertaining to antisemitism and the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, outcomes of the Governor’s Commission on Antisemitism, anti-BDS legislation, and more.

Following the lobbying efforts, participants in Jewish Advocacy Day from across the state will reconvene for lunch and to hear from the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General.

People are already signing up for Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day. As Rabbi Ron Koas, a first-time participant says, “I believe not just in teaching but in doing and in leading the community by example. I want to go to Richmond and make the needs of my community heard, to talk about what the community needs from elected officials, especially the issues surrounding the rise in antisemitism.

“I also believe that as American Jews it’s our duty to be a part of civic life in our country and participate in the democratic process,” says Koas. “I always have a picture in my head of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching arm-in-arm in Selma, Alabama, and I would like to implement Rabbi Heschel’s statement ‘When I marched in Selma, I felt that my legs were praying.’”

Virginia Jewish Advocacy offers the opportunity to proactively advocate on behalf of the Jewish community and demonstrate mutual support for consensus issues facing the Commonwealth. These face-to-face meetings foster personal relationships with elected officials that will serve the community into the future.

Take advantage of this opportunity as Date with the State returns to Richmond for the first time since 2020. The bus leaves the Sandler Family Campus at 7 am. To reserve a seat on the bus (required by February 1), register at Jewishva.org/dwts. The cost of the day is $36, which includes a kosher lunch and helps defray the cost of transportation.

For more information, contact Elka Mednick, assistant director, JCRC of UJFT, at emednick@ujft.org or call 757-965-6112.

-Elka Mednick



Letter to the Editor