This week, JEWISHcolorado helped to welcome more than two dozen Jewish legislators from across the country affiliated with the NAJL. They met at the law offices of Brownstein Hyatt Farber and Schreck just prior to the launch of the NCSL Annual Legislative Summit. JEWISHcolorado Board Chair Rob Kaufmann and Dr. Dan Leshem, the new Director of JEWISHcolorado’s Jewish Community Relations Council, welcomed the elected officials.
Among the speakers was Colorado Representative Dafna Michaelson Jenet (D-CO) who introduced the state’s Attorney General Phil Weiser.
Weiser spoke passionately about his connection to the Jewish community, his love of teaching and his family’s history (his mother was born in a concentration camp and was liberated when she was 7 days old). Weiser also talked about two main challenges facing legislators across the country: the danger posed by rising demonization, hate, and antisemitism, and the importance of respectful engagement, appreciation for differences of opinion.
Legislators also shared some of the pain points they face while on the job, including antisemitic flyers being distributed in their district with their name, home address and pictures of their face with a Star of David on their forehead. Some spoke of virtual town hall meetings being “bombed” or disrupted by hackers shouting antisemitic messages or images. Still others talked about the difficulty getting legislative colleagues to understand the real and ongoing threat of antisemitism
Despite the hurdles, guests also shared their successes, including hosting legislative seders that attracted broad participation from non-Jewish legislators, staff, and families, as well as pushing for the legislative schedule to allow time for observance of all religious activities including Jewish holiday observance.
Although there is still plenty to do when it comes to advocacy and ensuring the safety of Jewish legislators around the country, meetings like these, says Leshem, shed light on the value of the work that is being done, and the impact it is having on both Jews and gentiles around the country. To get involved in JCRC, reach out to Dr. Dan Leshem, Director of JCRC, at DLeshem@JEWISHcolorado.org.