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 Effecting Change at JPAC Advocacy Day 2018 
The Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC) held its annual Advocacy Day in Sacramento on May 14-15, drawing around 150 Jewish community leaders representing over twenty organizations from across California, as well as a group of ten student leaders from six different California college campuses. This two-day event held each May is the culminating effort of months of research, coalition building and convening to bring concerned citizens from the Jewish community to Sacramento to meet with key legislators on issues that impact our State. 
JPAC kicked off the event Monday night by honoring Senator Ben Allen at our Legislators Reception with the Jerry Sampson Award given every year to the Legislator of the Year. Senator Allen spoke about the importance of advocacy for the Jewish community and lauded the work that JPAC is doing to advance social justice in California.  We then held a sit-down dinner with members of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus and the Consul General of Israel from San Francisco. 
On Tuesday morning, after everyone gathered in the Citizen Hotel in downtown Sacramento, attendees heard from a dynamic panel of speakers to discuss "California post-Jerry Brown" that included public affairs experts Rob Stutzman and Cassandra Pye, and journalists Marisa Lagos (KQED) and Amy Chance (The Sacramento Bee), as well as the Los Angeles County Recorder/Registrar Dean Logan. The esteemed panel discussed the upcoming election and what it will mean for California, how we are maximizing voter registration, and how the election will all impact the issues that we care about, such as healthcare, education, housing, gun control, and immigration.
Senator Holly Mitchell (SD-30) spoke next, and asked us about what kind of California we want to live in- to help those less fortunate or to ignore the overwhelming number of people living in poverty today.  We lobbied for her bill, SB 982, which addresses CalWORKS funding. Our keynote speaker was Assembly Member Laura Friedman (AD-43), who spoke passionately about the work she is doing as Chair of the Assembly Rules Committee on Sexual Harassment.
Advocates then broke out into small groups and fanned out across the Capitol to meet with over 70 legislators to advocate for three items: 1. A package of bills that address poverty and homelessness by increasing State funding to help impoverished families, seniors and other individuals meet their most basic needs; 2. A budget proposal to provide badly needed support for elderly Holocaust Survivors who are struggling to live out their days in dignity; and, 3. A budget proposal for a new program to make California a national leader in combating hate, safeguarding free speech, and promoting inclusive climates on its university campuses.  Read below to learn about the status of these issues and what JPAC accomplished this year. 

JPAC Advocacy Day is an annual mission to Sacramento that brings together lay leaders and staff of Jewish organizations all over California.   It is an opportunity to come together in our State's Capitol to strengthen our relationships, debate public policy, and represent the greater Jewish community statewide to our legislators.    

Assemblymember Laura Friedman was a keynote speaker
Senator Holly J. Mitchell spoke to JPAC about poverty and her bill SB 982

Assemblymember Chris Holden  meeting with JPAC advocates 
Delegation from Los Angeles Jewish Federation
Legislative Update
Los Angeles area attendees meet with Asm. Jose Medina

JPAC advocates met with over 70 state senators and assembly members and their staff at the State Capitol to advocate for "yes" votes on these issues:   
Poverty Bills Package: 
AB 3171 (Ting): Homeless Persons Services Block Grant:  This bill creates the Local Homelessness Solutions Program, which will provide matching funds to cities with programs to combat homelessness. These funds must be matched by the recipient city and may be spent on a range of homelessness activities, including shelter diversion, rapid re-housing, rental assistance, emergency shelter, navigation centers, bridge housing, and permanent supportive housing. The bill will seek up to $1.5 billion in one-time state funding for the program.

Status: It is in the budget process and is Item #1 - on housing and homelessness in the General Government and Public Safety, in the budget conference committee 

AB 3200 (Kalra): Public Social Services: SSI/SSP:  This bill has become known as the $100 for 100% bill and would increase State Supplementary Payment (SSP) grants by $100 a month to reach nearly 100% of the Federal Poverty Level and restore the annual Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) in the program. While the FPL itself is still an insufficient income level in California to care for aged, blind and disabled members of the community, this bill would nonetheless make important progress.
Status: Passed the Suspense File, Passed the Assembly Floor, in the Senate Rules Committee awaiting committee referral

SB 982 (Mitchell): CALWorks:  SB 982 endeavors to eliminate deep poverty in the CalWORKs program by requiring a minimum grant level of 50 percent of the federal poverty line. By doing so, this bill would  help protect children from the harms of chronic poverty and better enable the CalWORKs program to achieve its goals.

Status: Passed the Suspense File, Passed the Senate Floor, currently at the Assembly Desk 

Budget ask: $1.25 million ($1,250,000) appropriation making California a national leader in combating hate, safeguarding free speech, and promoting inclusive climates on its university campuses

The California Responding to Hate on Campus Grant Program will enable the State of California to take the lead in working with colleges and universities on blunting these troubling trends and challenges on their campuses.This initial step will demonstrate that a small public investment can make a significant difference in shaping how people think and respond when confronted with hate.

Status: Included in the Governor's May Revise budget, and included in the final budget for 2018-2019! 

Budget ask:   $3.6 million ($3,600,000) appropriation to ensure that Holocaust survivors  are able to live in dignity in their communities.

While the size of the survivor population is decreasing, the number of survivors needing and seeking assistance is increasing. The California Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program will help ensure that Holocaust survivors are able to live out their lives with dignity and prevent the very things Survivors should never have to face again -- eviction, hunger, inadequate medical care, social isolation, and despair - while avoiding the financial and emotional costs of unnecessary institutionalization. This allocation will be used to fund and supplement funding for services including Home Care, culturally appropriate case management, home-delivered meals, transportation, and emergency financial assistance. At an estimated average expenditure of $6,000 per Holocaust survivor, a $3.6 million investment would serve approximately 600 frail survivors throughout California.   This competitive grant program within the appropriate State of California department will be used to meet the unique and urgent needs of vulnerable Holocaust Survivors.

Status: A great deal of lobbying effort went into this initiative, with successful results! It has been added to the State budget for FY 2018-2019!

JPAC also had significant input into AJR 35, a resolution introduced by Assemblymember Marc Levine regarding Poland's disturbing legislation limiting speech about that country's role in the Holocaust.  We are awaiting it's hearing in the Senate, though it has already passed in the Assembly.  Read the Resolution here.  Our Letter of Support can be read here. 

For questions or to get involved, please contact Julie Zeisler at Julie@jpac-cal.org or Cliff Berg at (916) 448-8240.
JPAC Proudly Announces State Financial Support for Holocaust Survivors

According to the State Treasurer's Office, there are 15,000-20,000 Holocaust Survivors living in California today. Holocaust survivors in California are becoming increasingly frail and vulnerable as they face the challenges of aging. In addition to the long-term effects of trauma, many have significant unmet needs. Jewish Family Service agencies throughout the state currently provide wide-ranging care to an estimated 3,300 or more survivors each year who rely on essential services to live independently.  

Shockingly, it is estimated that more than 25% of survivors currently live at or below the poverty line, with some communities facing even higher rates due to the high cost of living in cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. These low-income survivors struggle to meet their basic needs for housing, food, and health care, and rely on Supplemental Security Income/State Supplemental Payment (SSI/SSP), energy assistance programs, senior meal programs (congregate and home-delivered meals) and other vital programs in order to obtain the basic necessities of life. In some cases, poverty can be a particularly traumatic event for survivors as it can remind them of experiences of deprivation during the Holocaust.

We are so profoundly grateful that the California Legislature and the Governor's office found it just as critical as we do to ensure that this population cam live out their days with dignity, and allocated $3.6 million in the State Budget for FY 2018-2019.  A very big thank you goes out to the people who turned this goal into a reality: Cliff Berg, Nancy Volpert, Ashley Harrington, Gia Daniller-Katz, Jenny Berg, Colleen Beamish, and the California Jewish Caucus. 

See our Press Release here.

JPAC Proudly Announces State Financial Support for Anti-Bias Training on College Campuses

In the aftermath of Charlottesville and an increasing drum beat of hate activity across the country since the 2016 presidential election college and university administrators have searched for meaningful and effective ways to reverse the divisiveness and coarsening of discourse infecting many of their campuses. The challenge is acute in California, given the extensive free speech protections guaranteed on campuses, both public and private.

After extensive research and consultation with community groups and campus stakeholders, the Jewish Public Affairs Committee (JPAC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) developed a proposal for the State of California to take the lead in working colleges and universities on blunting these troubling trends and challenges on their campuses.

We are so profoundly grateful that the California Legislature and the Governor's office  allocated $1.2 million in the State Budget for FY 2018-2019.   

"The Anti-Defamation League is grateful to the State Legislature for its support of the California Responding to Hate on Campus $1.2 million Grant Program," stated Nancy Appel, ADL Senior Associate Director in San Francisco.  "Implementation of multi-faceted anti-hate programming on our university campuses will help administrators achieve their critical goals of both safeguarding the marketplace of ideas and providing inclusive and welcoming climates for all members of their communities."

A very big thank you to the ADL (Michelle Deutchman, Nancy Appel, Amanda Susskind, Matt Friedman) Cliff Berg, Jenny Berg, Colleen Beamish, and the California Jewish Caucus. 

In 2017, JPAC received a grant from Koret Foundation to establish the Koret Student Fellows Program.  In its inaugural year, JPAC recruited 10 student leaders from across California's college campuses, including UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Davis, San Francisco State University, CSU Northridge, and Pierce College to attend Advocacy Day in Sacramento, and hired a student intern to have first-hand access to JPAC and the work that we are doing across the State.  These students are the next generation of leadership in the Jewish community, and through the Koret Student Fellows Program, we provide them with the skills to build relationships with their elected officials, understand the ins and outs of lobbying effectively, and introduce them to Jewish organizations and their leadership.  Thank you to the Koret Foundation for your generous support of this program.
Below, Koret Student Fellows share their experiences in their own words:

When I first found out about the opportunity to serve as the first student intern for JPAC, I was excited to apply as it seemed like the perfect fit -- a combination of my passion for Jewish social justice values and advocacy. Almost a year later, my experience has been extremely beneficial and transformative.  My experience was extremely positive, not only seeing how the legislators enjoyed speaking to students who were impacted most by their decisions, but seeing our student advocates effectively speak for themselves and share their stories in a setting like the Capitol, many for the first time. The unity and vision I saw from Advocacy Day reiterated to me that Jewish organizations who belong to JPAC have a profound impact on their communities and on the lives of citizens all throughout California. In addition to Advocacy Day, the opportunity to attend JPAC board meetings where we determined the legislative agenda for the year, staff events with local electeds and leaders, and conduct research on past bills JPAC has lobbied on have helped me develop my skills and my interest in public policy and public service. It has been a true honor getting to serve in this role, and I can only imagine the work we will continue to build on together in the future. - Victoria Solkovitz, UCLA and Koret Student Intern 2017-18

My experience as a student lobbyist at JPAC was extremely fulfilling. Being able to take one of the core tenants of Judaism - tikkun olam - and apply it to real life resonated with me not only politically, but culturally. The pursuit of social justice isn't always easy, but the guidance I received from my mentors in JPAC allowed me to build my confidence and discuss why these pieces of legislation need to be passed to senators face-to-face. Having the opportunity to speak to my legislators directly reinstated my faith in civic engagement and the political process. I now know that I want to pursue politics in my future for the betterment of my society, so that I am able to enact change on a statewide, and perhaps national level. I am excited to explore this endeavor through communicating the importance of political activism to my fellow students. I will discuss ways to combat hate on campus with these peers, which was the focus on one of the bills I discussed with my representatives. Hopefully, other students will follow suit after hearing about my time with JPAC and will be inspired to enact much needed change. - Melody Niv, Pierce College

JPAC Advocacy day showed me the power of communication.  From this experience I have learned the value of person to person advocacy. As I go into the future I hope to continue working with political organizations fighting for the change we so desperately need in California, the United States and around the world. I look forward to becoming more active in the political Jewish communities around Los Angeles, where the connections I have made with the Jewish Federation, Hillel and others through this program will be invaluable. -Taylor Daymude, UCLA

I had a marvelous experience at JPAC's policy advocacy day, lobbying for issues that I care about deeply, especially the ones pertaining to my campus. I am very grateful for the opportunity to speak to California State legislators about the key issue of dealing with hate speech on college campuses. Coming from San Francisco State University which is widely known for incidences of anti-semitism, I spoke for a few thousand voices that have all carried the same fear that paralyzes and divides against action. Getting in contact with the ADL has become instrumental in doing my part as a community leader in trying to create a better campus climate that has long been hostile. As the sole Northern California campus representative, I wish to help JPAC become a larger voice in this initiative as well as any others that come to the table. I truly want to open the door for other Jewish students at SFSU to participate in our democratic process so that younger voices in general are being heard and politicians are being held accountable for the well-being of their constituents. I believe that I had a profound impact to the legislators I visited; my strong message and experiences have struck a chord with them and I am optimistic that the legislature will support the anti-hate speech initiative as it reaches the floor for a final vote. Although I am going to enter into my last semester as an undergraduate, I would love for my work with JPAC to continue into the future if I am given the wonderful opportunity once more. Thank you for being the beacon of light and justice for the students across California. - Lex De la Herran, San Francisco State University

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have attended JPAC Advocacy Day. I loved the ability to connect with a range of Jewish leaders from across the state, from members of the legislature to professionals from all walks of life to the other student fellows. There are very few settings that offer a twenty-year old college student like myself unmediated access to such influential individuals, and even fewer that encourage genuine engagement on both sides. I feel that I have so much to learn from so many of the conference attendees, whether it be recent college graduates with incredible career paths, politicians like Assemblywoman Laura Friedman who have faced many of the same barriers I will, and even students that have faced anti-Semitism on their campuses.
  In addition, each piece of the JPAC legislative agenda was something with which I deeply resonated.
I have lobbied before, both at the state and general level, but never had the opportunity to intentionally infuse my Jewish values into my advocacy, so this proved a unique and enriching experience.  Furthermore, as I begin my term as student body president as the only Jewish elected representative, I am even more deeply conscious of the responsibility I have to represent my community positively in all that I do. I truly feel that my experience with JPAC has helped me to further explore my passion for politics as well as my Jewish identity, parts of me I know will continue to grow stronger in the coming weeks, months, and years. -Claire Feldman, UCLA, incoming Student Body President

Please donate to the JPAC Student Scholarship Fund to continue bringing highly qualified and effective California Jewish student leaders to Sacramento in 2019!  

CONGRATULATIONS  to the newly elected Assemblymember from the 45th District, Jesse Gabriel! Jesse has attended several JPAC Advocacy Days in the past, even serving as a moderator for one our panel discussions in 2017.  Jesse was instrumental in developing the California Nonprofit Security Grant Program that has successfully been included in the State budget for several years.  A lay leader in the Los Angeles Jewish Federation, Jesse has been a stand-up member of the Los Angeles Jewish community.  We are looking forward to working with him in Sacramento!

SAVE THE DATE for Advocacy Day 2019 taking place on May 6-7, 2019 in Sacramento.  More information to come in the fall- look out for early bird registration emails!

Thank you to our member organizations:   


Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles

Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties

Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco

Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles

Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, and Sonoma Counties

Jewish Family Service of San Diego

Jewish Federation and Family Services of Orange County

Jewish Federation of Greater Long Beach and North Orange County

Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley

Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region

Jewish Federation of Santa Barbara

Jewish Labor Committee Western Region

Hadassah Southern California

Hadassah Central Pacific Coast

Anti-Defamation League Western Region

30 Years After

American Jewish Committee Los Angeles

American Jewish Committee San Francisco

ETTA Israel 

Bet Tzedek Legal Services

Jewish Center for Justice


The Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California (JPAC) is the largest single-state coalition of Jewish organizations in the nation. JPAC is Comprised of local Jewish Federations, Jewish Community Relations Committees and Councils, Jewish Family Services agencies, and other community advocacy groups from throughout California. We advocate on broadly shared values that affect the citizens of our State.