Jewish Community Relations Councilof San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

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Reflecting on JPAC Advocacy Day 2018

May 23, 2018
Posted by: Gabi Kuhn, Public Policy & Community Building Associate

Looked at from afar, government can seem slow and overly bureaucratic. It's sometimes difficult to feel you can really make a difference.

This month I had the opportunity to take part in the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC)’s two-part Advocacy Day at the State Capitol and witness government in action first hand. Alongside 150 community leaders, advocates and professionals from across the state, we advocated on important budget proposals aimed at helping to end poverty, assisting Holocaust survivors in their final years, and responding to hate on our college campuses.

My first foray into California politics was as part of JPAC’s delegation to the Assembly floor to observe Assemblymember Laura Friedman introduce HR 107, which commends and congratulates “the people of Israel for their remarkable achievements on the occasion of Israel’s 70th anniversary." A total of 71 members of the Assembly agreed to be co-authors. Minutes later, we were whisked across the Capitol building to the California Senate floor to watch State Senator Ben Allen swiftly introduce a sister bill.

Political enthusiasts will appreciate how JPAC not only gave us the opportunity to stand on the Assembly and Senate floors of the California legislature, but also provided many opportunities to meet and mingle with a wide variety of state legislators and politicos at a reception, an intimate dinner and several Q&A panel discussions. Highlights included hearing State Senator Holly Mitchell speak at length about advocating to end deep poverty and listening to Assemblymember Friedman discuss the importance of the #MeToo movement and ending sexual harassment in the workplace.

On Tuesday afternoon, guided by our common Jewish values of tzedek (justice) and tikkun olam (repairing the world), the 150 JPAC attendees divided into groups to meet with individual legislators to advocate for policy measures to combat bigotry, homelessness and poverty across the state. All three legislators that I personally met with were very receptive to our call to action on these important issues.

Overall, I was quite impressed by JPAC’s scope and the opportunities it provided to meet with legislators and passionate advocates in our community. This was JPAC’s first year of outreach specifically to students and young adults, and I was proud to be a part of this delegation and part of the governmental process.

Now having seen government activities up close, it's clear things are happening all the time and together we can have an impact.