DALLAS — On Thursday, March 26, nearly 50 participants from Jewish communities throughout the state gathered at the Texas State Capitol for Jewish Communities Day at the State: Legislative Mission to Austin, organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
Participants represented Jewish Federations and other community organizations from around the state, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, American Jewish Committee (AJC), Texas Hillel, the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio and the Jewish Federations of Austin, El Paso and Fort Worth and Tarrant County.
The day included presentations from political commentators and policy experts, and private audiences with state legislators and statewide elected officials, including both Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick. Attendees also met with several DFW-area legislators in individual advocacy meetings.
“Part of the JCRC’s mission is to develop good working relationships with legislators at all levels of government and to be a resource as-needed on important issues affecting all of us,” said A.J. Rosmarin, JCRC chair. “This mission to Austin was a great opportunity for the JCRC and others in the Dallas Jewish community to interact with influential lawmakers in our state, and to ensure that a Jewish voice is present wherever and whenever decisions are made in Texas,” he added.
The group was formally recognized from the House floor by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Representative Jason Villalba (R-Dallas), who designated March 26 as Texas Jewish Communities Advocacy Effort Day. This recognition was followed by the reading of a house resolution condemning anti-Semitism by Representative Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas).
As part of the mission, each participating community was given the opportunity to advocate on a different policy agenda. The delegation joining Dallas JCRC advocated on three priority issues: early childhood education, Texas-Israel relations and social services funding. These three issues were of specific importance to the Dallas Jewish community, specifically the social services component, tying directly into the work of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, which supports Federation partner agencies that provide social services to Jewish and non-Jewish communities throughout the greater Dallas area.
“We were happy to connect with other Texas federations and JCRCs, as we are uniquely positioned to see the wonderful growth in Texas-Israel connections,” said Cindy Sweet Moskowitz, board chair, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. “We were able to talk to our legislators about future possibilities in the realm of energy, science and technology and we advocated for attention to social issues that we care deeply about as an organization guided by Jewish values,” she added.
In addition to the statewide Jewish delegation, attendees included a Hispanic contingent from the Jewish-Latino Alliance of the American Jewish Committee. The group, which aims to foster cross-cultural learning and support between the Dallas Jewish and Hispanic communities, added an important piece to the day’s advocacy efforts and showed Texas state legislators the important relationships that exist between the Jewish and general communities in Texas.
“As a community of people that continues to face many challenges, it is of utmost importance for the Hispanic community to actively participate in our democratic process at all levels of government,” said Debra Lopez Liva, a disability advocate and member of the American Jewish Committee’s Jewish-Latino Alliance.
“I and other members of the Hispanic delegation are glad to have had the opportunity to join the Jewish community for a day of cooperative advocacy and education,” she added.
The Mission was the last in a series of joint programming related to the 84th Texas State Legislature this year, coordinated by the Dallas JCRC and the American Jewish Committee. In January, the JCRC hosted a Legislative Update and Forecast featuring Texas State Representatives Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas) and Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth). In March, AJC hosted an Advocacy Training in preparation for the Mission to Austin.
Submitted by Jamie Moore on behalf of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Dallas.