The Baltimore Jewish Council is preparing to transport more than 60 local residents to Annapolis for this year’s Maryland Jewish Advocacy Day on Feb. 18. The event represents an opportunity for community members to interact with their elected representatives, said Howard Libit, BJC executive director.
This year, the BJC plans to focus on three principal issues of concern to the Jewish community, Libit said. First is the development of Northwest Baltimore. Second is the passage of new hate crime legislation, in addition to pushing for funding for security at community schools and institutions. Third is a push for increased funding for programs that allow senior citizens to remain in their homes, as well as a crackdown on unlicensed providers and assisted living homes.
There is an old joke that two Jews will have three opinions on a single subject, so condensing the local Jewish community’s concerns into such a small set of issues might sound like a daunting task. However, Libit stressed that the BJC spent much of the autumn of 2019 meeting with all of the agencies of The Associated and with various legislators to put together an “agenda of issues that concern the community.”
In the past, efforts on Advocacy Day have focused on funding for Sinai Hospital, social service programs through Jewish Community Services, and aid for Holocaust survivors, said Jonathan Schwartz, executive director of the Modell Lyric performing arts center and member of the BJC board. Schwartz plans to attend this year’s Advocacy Day.
“It’s very important for our legislators to recognize the importance of the issues that the Baltimore Jewish Council is advocating for in the legislative session,” said Schwartz. “The best way to show that support is strength in numbers.”
Participants will meet with representatives from the 10th, 11th, and 41st districts, Libit said, including Del. Dana Stein (District 11-D) and state Sen. Shelly Hettleman (District 11-D), who was recently appointed to fill the seat previously held by Bobby Zirkin. The event is expected to end with a reception with members of the General Assembly and officials from Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration, including cabinet secretaries.
Registered volunteers can board buses departing from Chizuk Amuno Congregation at 3:30 p.m.
“It’s important for [our elected officials] to see people again and again so they know we are always interested and paying attention to the issues,” Schwartz said. “People often comment that it is often one of the best attended Advocacy Day events in Annapolis.”
“I would encourage anyone who has never been to take part in this year’s event,” Schwartz said.