This year’s Virginia Jewish Advocacy Day on Feb. 8 was the culmination of a several-month effort by the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond and its Jewish Community Relations Committee, to advocate for legislation on several important bills of importance to Jews across the Commonweath.
It was the first in-person Jewish Advocacy Day since early February 2020. The premiere event for the Federation’s JCRC featured approximately 50 Richmonders advocating on behalf of the greater Jewish community. During small-group meetings, they presented information, answered questions and urged support on the bills of importance to the Jewish community with about 20 local Delegates, Senators or their Legislative Aides..
Advocacy Day featured remarks from Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears and Att. Gen. Jason Miyares.
In all, more than 200 Jewish Virginians gathering downtown for the annual event at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. 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.
The 200+ group reached out to approximately 100 General Assembly elected officials or their aides during the day. Serving as Captains of the Richmond teams were: Richard Samet, JCRC Chair Amy Melnick-Scharf, Ephraim Seidman, Rabbi Scott Nagel and Don Glazer.
Following the group meetings, the attendees returned to St. Paul’s for remarks from the top elected leaders before lunch.
Amy Melnick-Scharf introduced Gov. Youngkin, noting that Jewish Advocacy Day attendees “represented about 177,000 Jews across Virginia.”
In his remarks, the Governor thanked the Jewish community members for attending the event. “I am thrilled we are all together today. We must come together often; we have so much in common. We have a great opportunity to get things done and its important we agree on the problems.”
He noted on day one of his administration that he signed an Executive Order to create a Commission to Combat Antisemitism that issued its final report in early December 2022.
“The Commission did incredible work. Antisemitism affects so many people … There are several important bills and initiatives recommended by the Commission. I am in full support of all of these.”
“I am eager to work with all of you,” the Governor concluded.
Att. Gen. Miyares told the group he was proud of his position as the “people protector” in Virginia.
He recalled his trip to Israel several years ago and his profound sadness while visiting Yad Vashem and the Children’s Memorial. “Antisemitism is the oldest form of bigotry in the world. Charlottesville with the attacks and harassment of Jews on the UVA campus during the march with burning tiki torches was one of the darkest days in our Commonwealth’s history. The world has seen vampires come out of the shadows to attack and murder Jews. We must try to root it out everywhere.”
In reference to the Governor’s Commission to Combat Antisemitism, he saluted the final report and announced the creation of a Task Force within the Office of Attorney General to monitor and combat acts of Antisemitism in Virginia. The Task Force is in response to one of the recommendations of the Commission.
He explained, the Task Force’s mission centers around four strategies: monitoring, information-gathering, educating, and investigating instances of antisemitism in the Commonwealth. This state Task Force is the first of its kind in the United States.
“I am honored to be your Attorney General,” he noted.
In remarks, Lt. Gov. Sears said, “It’s good for you to be here today to be involved in your government. We are concerned with the issues that concern you. It’s important for you speak up in-person to the Legislature about all your issues. Let’s all pray for our political leaders to make the righteous decisions for you.”
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