18 meetings. 55 questions. 1 incredible advocacy day.
On Tuesday, February 23, 2021, over 65 lay and professional leaders from every one of our Jewish communities statewide spent the entire day “virtually” on Capitol Hill. We met with both US Senators and with each of the 16 congressional offices in the Ohio delegation. Our one and only issue: Jewish community security.
2021 Virtual DC Security Fly-In
2019 Annual Meeting
OJC held its annual meeting on July 18, with near record-breaking attendance. Community members, civic leaders, and public officials from every one of our communities met in Columbus at Tifereth Israel. State Reps. David Leland, Janine Boyd, Kristin Boggs, and Stephanie Howse; State Senator Hearcel Craig; and Solon Mayor Edward Kraus were in attendance. As well, John Ryan and Joseph Henry from Sen. Sherrod Brown's office, Kevin Hoggatt from Sen. Portman's office, and Mike Schadek from Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther's office attended.
The featured part of the program was a fascinating Q&A conversation between Howie and Lt. Governor Jon Husted, touching on innovation in government, workforce, potential for more business between Ohio and Israel, and next steps in community security.
Special thanks to Steve Friedman, Executive Director of Tifereth Israel for hosting the meeting and Alison Gutwaks of AliBabka Catering for the wonderful lunch. As well, we thank Adam Reiss of Spyroll Studios for photographing and recording the event and Lesley Fogle of Hear No Evil and Chris Cope for sound engineering.
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On April 30, OJC coordinated an all-too-timely statehouse advocacy day on communal security. Our statewide group included security directors, federation and agency leadership, JCRC executives, lay leaders, and rabbis. We met with several House and Senate offices, including Rep. Riordan McClain, vice-chair of the Transportation & Public Safety Committee, Rep. Casey Weinstein, Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Peterson, Finance Chair Matt Dolan, and with executive leadership at DPS, including Assistant Director Karen Huey, OHS executive director Brian Quinn, DHS leader Pat Shaw, OHS deputy Brandon Gardner, and legislative liaison Dan Fitzpatrick. Our legislative focus was on target hardening funding and funding for security guards and with DPS we explored potential college partnerships.
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It may have been the first time that candidates from each statewide ticket were at the same event. Last week’s annual meeting of Ohio Jewish Communities (OJC), held on June 27, 2018, featured each major party candidate for Lt. Governor (Congresswoman Betty Sutton and Secretary Jon Husted), Attorney General (Steve Dettelbach and Auditor Dave Yost), Treasurer (Rob Richardson and Rep. Robert Sprague), Auditor (Rep. Keith Faber and Congressman Zack Space), and Secretary of State (Rep. Kathleen Clyde and Senator Frank LaRose) who spoke to the crowd about their accomplishments and their vision for Ohio.
“This was an excellent opportunity for our community leadership from all across the state to come together and hear from every ticket. It’s likely the first time since the primaries that every Democratic and Republican statewide campaign was at the same event. Ohioans have major areas of interest and concern, and our Jewish communities are at the forefront of so many of them. We appreciated this opportunity to hear directly from the candidates,” said Judith Brachman of Columbus, the OJC President.
In addition to the candidates themselves, the community leaders heard a legislative update from Senate President Larry Obhof. Coming as it did on the very last day of session before the Legislature headed to summer recess, this proved a very informative leadership opportunity.
For example, candidate for Auditor and former Senate President Keith Faber detailed his work, in light of the significant terror threats and increasing hate crimes, to make Ohio one of the first states in the nation to help fund security upgrades at nonprofits, including schools, community centers, and houses of worship.
Steve Dettelbach, the former US attorney and now a candidate for Attorney General, spoke of the community’s focus on helping those in need, and how the office of Attorney General could be an ally in that fight.
And Betty Sutton, the former Congresswoman now running for Lt. Governor, also discussed community safety, and the need to continue Holocaust memorial education, while her opponent for Lt. Governor, Secretary of State Jon Husted, was able to discuss in detail his work on school choice and his leadership on ensuring Ohio’s public pension funds divested from Iran and Sudan.
“As we say all the time, we’re eight communities, but one voice. On so many of the issues that matter to us, there’s no more critical time than now, and no one else more vital to have policy conversations with than the men and women who lead and will lead our state next year. Our communities, their federations, nonprofit agency executives, rabbis, and lay leaders are so grateful for the chance to hear from President Obhof, and from each candidate, about where Ohio is, where it could go, and the role we – our institutions and leaders - can play in partnership with our policymakers and elected officials,” said OJC Executive Director Howie Beigelman.
Participants also were able to pay tribute to two recently deceased communal leaders. Leading the tribute to Robert “Mendy” Klein of Cleveland was Rabbi Yitz Frank, the director of Agudath Israel of Ohio, which is also an observer organization of the OJC. Rabbi Frank illustrated Mendy’s leadership and compassion as he, paraphrasing former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, “shared his blanket” with others in need. And Gordon Hecker, the CEO emeritus of the Jewish Federation of Columbus, led the memorial to Bob Lane, the former Jewish Community Relations Council director whose focus on combating injustice was legend.
Two Jewish agencies were able to share their advocacy successes this year, and to speak of their partnership with OJC: Marcy Miller, the executive director, and Joel Miller, the director of development, spoke for Hillel at Miami University, and Scott Solomon detailed some of the work of Jewish Family Services of Columbus regarding job training and job placement.
As well, OJC executive director Howie Beigelman spoke of OJC’s mission, some of its successes, but also its vision, adding in not only “what” we do, but also “why.”
He noted the uniqueness of the event and though every campaign was represented, they came “not for a debate, but a conversation.” They were here to “talk to you: our community, our leaders,” he told the crowd.
The other unique aspect was who OJC represents, including each of the state’s eight Jewish federations as well as their 150 agencies and partners, such as synagogues and temples. Regarding the work OJC does every day, he said “We do it in partnership with our Jewish federations and the committed community leaders from every Jewish nonprofit on the ground here in Ohio.”
OHIO’S STATEWIDE RACES JOIN TOGETHER TO MEET OHIO’S JEWISH LEADERSHIP
Record Breaking Crowd in Attendance for Bipartisan Slate of Ten Statewide Candidates Ohio Jewish Communities Annual Meeting Also Featured Tributes to Community Leaders Mendy Klein and Bob Lane.
Photos courtesy of Adam Reiss, Spyroll Studios
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