by Haya Luftig
New York – The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA)and the National Association of Jewish Legislators (NAJL) have announced a new partnership to strengthen the American Jewish community’s voice in state capitols. The two organizations are seeking to build stronger ties with state legislators and Jewish community relations councils in a coordinated and unified effort as more public policies are debated in the states.
As a first step, NAJL has relocated its office to the New York City headquarters of JCPA where NAJL will be able to work with JCPA staff on a regular basis and coordinate its efforts with Jewish Community Relations Councils and Federations nationwide.
“It’s critical to foster stronger Jewish involvement at the state level as more decision making takes place in states and localities,” said David L. Bernstein JCPA’s President, adding “our partnerships will help to ensure that Jewish legislators and community leaders coordinate with each other on legislation and issues important to our communities.
According to NAJL Executive Director Jeffrey M. Wice, “our partnership will help us identify emerging and pending state policy issues and work with community leaders on legislative strategies including BDS related legislation, support for Israel and social service priorities.”
The two organizations hope to develop relationships to impact on legislative areas at the state level where action is necessary. Recently hard won battles in Washington, D.C. may be passed down to states.
JCPA and NAJL are currently working together to respond to the spate of bomb threats made against Jewish community centers and cemeteries.
Jewish state legislators often are prime leaders on headline-making issues facing communities in the states, leading the fight for hate crime legislation, workplace freedom laws, religious freedom statutes, access to health and human services program funding, and protection for newly arrived Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union and other countries. These are all areas where the Jewish community innovates, leads and has expertise that can be shared to support these efforts.
As Jewish legislators are often ambassadors for Jewish causes and Israel related concerns in state capitols, the JCPA network can help improve the ability of Jewish elected officials to respond to key issues as they arise and require attention.