Here’s what I discovered the first time I met with an elected representative in her office. She was truly interested in what I had to say and sincerely open to my presentation. Respecting my passion and willingness to be an advocate, she wanted to know why I cared so deeply about the issues we were discussing. She also wanted the information I came to bring her because she was not yet closely following those issues.
These are the purposes of Advocacy Day. We enthusiastically represent the Jewish community and inform our State Delegates and Senators about our community’s views on pending legislation. 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.
In our conversations with them, we provide a context for our elected representatives’ decisions and a reminder of whose interests they serve. We also represent our community with pride and awareness of our priorities for the greater good.
When we seek funding for the Sinai Hospital Medical Home Extender program, we seek to provide medical care for the uninsured and underinsured. When we seek funding of Supportive Care Networks we allow community members to “age-in-place” and receive the social services they require. Advocating for these initatives we act on the Jewish imperative of hesed, compassion, for all people.
When we seek funding for Elder Abuse Centers, a collaborative project of Associated agencies, we help provide treatment and prevention to some of the 80,000 Marylanders over the age of 60 experiencing or at risk for abuse. In asking for the continuation of Northwest Hospital’s Domestic Violence Prevention Program, we act on the mitzvah of respecting our elders and everyone’s dignity.
When we ask the State of Maryland to divest from Iran or invest in Israeli companies doing business here, we foster security for Israel and economic development for both Maryland and Israel. When we represent Jewish values in public policy debates we give voice to our ideals and build relationships with other Maryland citizen groups.
All of this demonstrates the impact of Adocacy Day. Yet, as I learned in my first meeting some years ago, none of this reflects the personal satisfaction that comes from being part of the process, making a difference in people’s lives, cultivating relationships with those we vote for, and affecting tangible outcomes for the Jewish community and values we cherish.
Join in Advocacy Day on Tuesday afternoon February 26, 2013. Meet with our legislators in Annapolis and discover for yourself the spirit of our community in action.