Jewish Advocacy Day in Richmond on February 5 was a great opportunity for six of us to head to Richmond with hundreds of other Jews from around the state to make our voices heard on issues that are important to our community.With able leadership from CRC (Community Relations Council) Chair Richard Gordon, our Peninsula group visited local representatives and senators communicating our concerns regarding legislation that would leave the door open to more opportunities for religious expression during the public school day, and the teaching of creationism. In addition, we asked for support for budget amendments that would support VIAB (The Virginia Israel Advisory Board)and the PAM program run by Jewish Family Service of Tidewater, both positive programs for our State. VIAB is a state run agency that promotes economic development between Israel and Virginia and helps Israeli companies locate in Virginia, the most notable of which is Sabra Hummus products. PAM ( Personal Affairs Management) is a crucial guardianship program run through JFS that allows courts to appoint JFS as guardian for over 600 of our state’s most vulnerable and alone residents. A proposed cut for this program in Governor McDonnell’s original budget would be devastating for this valuable program.

With Richard’s detailed preparation, all six of us, Richard,Bob and Meryl Kessler, Sarah Barnett, Mike Stupar, and Rita Cooper, presented specific information regarding these issues to brand new representatives, Monty Mason, and Gordon Helsel. In addition we met with Tommy Norment’s legislative aid and had a productive conversation with our old friend John Miller, who is always responsive to our concerns.

Our Community Relations Council is a volunteer led committee that does the quiet but important work of making sure that our Jewish voice is heard in the community when necessary. Jewish Advocacy Day is open to everyone and is a terrific way to not only take the opportunity to speak up,but also to learn about and witness our State democracy up close and personal.