Home Featured Stories Our voices were heard on Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day

Our voices were heard on Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day

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Our Richmond group gathers at the conclusion of Jewish Advocacy Day.

“Wow!”

A comment from many who attended our annual Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day on February 7.

Over 200 individuals from all across the Commonwealth met with their legislators, advocating for security funds for strengthening Holocaust and genocide education and ensuring that current hate crimes legislation is inclusive and recognizes all citizens of the Commonwealth.

Attendees also heard remarks from Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears, and Attorney General Jason Miyares during lunch at St. Paul’s Church.

Debra Rodman, JCRC Director for the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, noted, “It was truly a moving day as our community showed its strength, and our voices were heard!”

Notably, our Richmond delegation comprised more than 80 participants, including RTA students.

In a thank you email, Rob Slotnick, JCRC Chair, Jewish Community Federation of Richmond, exclaimed, “What a day! Everyone is saying this was the best Advocacy Day ever!” He added, in part, “The effort, the results … absolutely amazing!!! We had a great turnout… we did some meaningful work, and most of all, we made an impact on our community!”

The day served as a culmination of a several-month effort by the Federation and its JCRC to advocate for legislation on several important bills of importance to Jews and other faiths across the Commonwealth.

The premiere event for the Federation’s JCRC featured a number of first-time individuals advocating on behalf of the greater Jewish community. During small-group meetings of seven teams, they presented information, answered questions and urged support on the bills of importance to the Jewish community with more than 20 local Delegates, Senators or their staff.

Richmonders were joined by representatives of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, the United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula, the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater and several others. Richmond Hadassah was a co-sponsor of the event.

Serving as Team Leaders were: Rob Slotnick, JCRC Chair; Rabbi Dovid Asher, Maya Eckstein, Robyn Galpern, Amy Melnick-Scharf, Gail Moskowitz  and Ephraim Seidman.

Following the group meetings, the attendees returned to St. Paul’s for remarks from the top elected leaders before lunch.

In his remarks, the Governor thanked the Jewish community members from throughout the Commonwealth for inviting him to speak and for attending the event.

“We are on a journey together to combat antisemitism. It is our collective responsibility to never, ever  stop the fight,” he noted. “Thank you for being partners and activists during this important time.”

The governor reflected on the early morning of Oct. 7, when he grieved and shared the Jewish world’s sadness and outrage on the tragic carnage in Israel by Hamas terrorists.

“We can never forget  … and we can never forget this day.”

He also recalled the day last year when he received a note … “Governor, they just passed the bill.” This was shortly after the legislation – International Definition of Antisemitism – was passed by the General Assembly. “That piece of paper is always with me,” he noted.

“The definition clearly points out that antisemitism exists … that hatred exists .. and gives law enforcement the legislation necessary to enforce a hate crime.”

He urged all attendees to continue to speak to their legislators on important legislation before them in the current session. “Advocacy is so important. I welcome you here today.”

See many photos from the event by Adrienne Winkelmann Epstein.