State Legislators are listening Date with the State

January 22, 2018

What’s Happening

Tuesday, Jan. 30, 7 am–4 pm

While national political news bombards us at every turn, it is important to realize that state politics make direct impacts on our daily lives. Still, do you know who your state legislator is, and have you had the chance to have a conversation with them about issues that are important to you?

United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Community Relations Council is ready to connect you with state delegates and senators when the Tidewater Jewish community travels to Richmond for Date with the State to advocate about issues important to our community. We will ask for support for our local institutions serving the elderly and impoverished, social services, and health care. We will also ask for continued support of the Virginia-Israel Advisory Board—a unique state government agency that facilitates relationships between Israeli businesses and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Tidewater is one delegation of a larger coordinated group—representatives of all of Virginia’s Jewish communities—who travel to Richmond on the same day.

This is my fourth time participating in Date with the State, and it is a highlight of my year. Attendees are a rich and diverse representation of our community: men and women; teens to seniors; every denomination of Judaism;, lay leaders, staff, and clergy. On the bus to Richmond, excitement and enthusiasm fills the air as we plan our day, meet our team members, and learn which delegates and senators we are scheduled to meet.

The CRC does an incredible job of clearly outlining the issues and positions we will discuss, and makes every effort to have a constituent of each legislator’s in each meeting. Although a little anxiety before appointments with law makers is not unusual, once you meet with them, you realize how important your voice and presence can be in shaping their votes. These face-to-face meetings send strong signals to law makers about the engagement and motivation levels of the Jewish community. They also allow participants to develop personal relationships with representatives.

In addition, Tidewater joins with all the Virginian Jewish delegations to hear from the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General (while it is possible that a crisis might divert them from their scheduled appearance, it hasn’t happened to me yet). Hearing directly from our elected politicians about their priorities, strategies, and passion for making Virginia a great place to live, has given me powerful, first-hand voting information.

I participate in Date with the State because I, like all of us, have a personal stake in our state legislative process. Date with the State provides me a well-organized opportunity to interact with our state law makers, and to demonstrate that the Jewish community is an important and visible group to be taken seriously. The more of us who attend, the stronger the message to our politicians.

If you have ever wanted to meet your state representatives, to advocate for issues of importance to the Jewish community, or experience an exciting day of pluralistic unity and camaraderie, I hope you will participate in Date with the State.

The $36 fee includes a kosher lunch and helps defray the cost of transportation. Checks made out to the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater (mail to UJFT, 5000 Corporate Woods Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23462, ATT: CRC DWTS) will reserve a space.

For information, contact Wendy Weissman, assistant CRC director at 757- 965-6107 or WWeissman@ujft.org.

- Alyssa Muhlendorf

Letter to the Editor