BJC Prepares For Advocacy Day

Rabbi Ron Shulman says “knowledgeable advocates are vital to democracy.” (Justin Tsucalas)
Rabbi Ron Shulman says “knowledgeable advocates are vital to democracy.” (Justin Tsucalas)

The Baltimore Jewish Council is gearing up for its annual Advocacy Day in Annapolis on Wed., Feb. 5.

As in past years, organizers expect about 150 community members, state legislators and executive branch officials to come together to discuss the council’s legislative priorities.

“On Advocacy Day, we enthusiastically represent the Jewish community and inform our state delegates and senators about our community’s views on pending legislation,” Rabbi Ron Shulman, president of the BJC, said via email. “Knowledgeable and enthusiastic advocates are vital to democracy and the legislative process. Our Jewish heritage values this, urging us to participate in creating a just and decent society.”

Cailey Locklair, the BJC’s director of government relations and public policy, said that the event draws on the participation of legislators from across the state and their staffs.

“Legislators have to hear from their constituents,” she said.

Beginning at 4:30 p.m., with a briefing for participants, the program includes more than an hour devoted to meeting with legislators and a reception.

The BJC’s budgetary priorities this year include funding for domestic violence medical training, health care for the uninsured and underinsured, an elder abuse center, the Hillel Center for Social Justice, the Maryland/Israel Development Center and the Maryland Education Credit. Policy issues of importance to the BJC include disparities in storm water management fees, the debate over raising the minimum wage and increasing the selection of kosher wine available to Marylanders.

Lawmakers in Annapolis said they were looking forward to the conversations.

“There may be people who can personalize [an] issue who have specific experience with the problem that prompted the legislation,” said Delegate Sandy Rosenberg (D-41).

Delegate Dana Stein (D-11) agreed.

“It’s also good to hear from residents back home about why they think an issue is particularly important,” he said. “It helps personalize the importance of the BJC’s agenda.”

In addition to having face time with their representatives, Shulman said Advocacy Day allows community members to connect their Jewish values with the legislative process.

The BJC held another event in Annapolis recently in conjunction with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Jewish Community Relations of Council of Greater Washington. The luncheon featured presentations on the museum’s creation and the importance of keeping the lessons of the Holocaust alive.

The luncheon featured Maryland State Police Col. Marcus Brown, who regularly takes troopers to the museum. While not part of Advocacy Day, Locklair said it supported the BJC’s work in Annapolis.

“We haven’t really done anything like that before,” she said.

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