We have a spring ritual at JCRC, but it doesn’t have anything to do with Passover cleaning. Rather, every March we find ourselves rushing to put the finishing touches on the JCRC and MA Association of Jewish Federation (MAJF)’s annual Legislative Reception, the advocacy event of the organized Jewish community on Beacon Hill.
We know that nothing can replace personal relationships, forged over a hearty handshake and the clinking of glasses, but our world has been remade this past year, and as we have all adapted, so has the reception. Though we will miss the schmoozing over hors d’oeuvres, we are joining with our legislative partners to bring the reception to your home. The open bar will be replaced by the contents of your fridge.
This year, we will be honoring Chief Justice Ralph Gants z”l of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court with a special remembrance tribute. In 2016, Chief Justice Gants visited with the JCRC Council to share his wisdom as we grappled with criminal justice reform, an area to which he devoted his life. He and Rahsaan Hall, Director of the Racial Justice Program at ACLU, discussed their perspectives on the moral imperative for criminal justice reform and the principles necessary to bring more justice and humanity to a flawed system. The rich conversation informed JCRC Council discussions for years to come and directly influenced our advocacy in support of comprehensive criminal justice reform. We brought Justice Gants’ passion for equity with us to Beacon Hill to advocate in support of the monumental legislation later signed into law.
Even virtually, this reception remains a key opportunity for us to honor the legislative partners who have worked with us to advance the values and priorities of the organized Jewish Community. We are especially grateful to our 2021 Legislative Award Recipients:
- Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, who has visited all 351 communities in the Commonwealth, connecting with MA residents where they live and work, to inform her work on behalf of local communities. As co-chair of the Reopening Advisory Board, Lt. Governor Polito was instrumental in advising the administration on strategies to reopen the economy in phases based on health and safety metrics. In this capacity, Lt. Governor Polito was a vital sounding board as JCRC advocated for the summer camp industry, early and secondary education providers, and the equitable allocation of PPE and testing supplies to all schools.
- Senator Will Brownsberger, who played a key role in the 2018 Criminal Justice Reform and the 2020 Police Reform legislation, utilizing his thorough understanding of policy and the legislative process. Senator Brownsberger deeply believes that an informed electorate is essential to a proper functioning democracy. He is accessible, consistent, and a tireless advocate for justice, and also happens to be a competitive triathlete.
- Representative Garlick, a registered nurse who has led from the start on issues supporting mental health, substance abuse and health equity. As Chair of the Committee on Elder Affairs, she has worked with JCRC to support programs like Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCS) which keep seniors independent and living in their own homes. Representative Garlick has been a key leader as our state has navigated through the pandemic.
- Representative Chynah Tyler, who began her career as a Case Manager for Federal Inmates, assisting those nearing release with securing employment, housing, and community support. In 2016, at just 26 years old, Representative Tyler ran a successful campaign to succeed the long-time incumbent. From that experience, she grew to understand the importance of state government in delivering valuable resources to the most vulnerable populations. She serves as Chair of the Black and Latino Caucus, and her work has always had an equity focus, whether on criminal justice reform, homelessness prevention, or education.
- Jeremy Spittle, Legislative and Policy Director for Senator Rodrigues, whose passion for public service was instilled in him at a young age during a middle school field trip to the Massachusetts State House. Over the last 13-plus years, Jeremy has gained invaluable hands-on experience working on Beacon Hill, where he provides government affairs expertise and support to Senator Michael Rodrigues. JCRC has worked closely with Jeremy on genocide education and the state budget, and he has always been both accessible and accountable.
These public servants have answered the call for leadership in a time of great challenge, and together, we have worked to improve quality of life and access to opportunity for all Massachusetts residents. I hope you will join us at this year’s Legislative Reception on March 18th at 5pm to recognize them. No one person or group can do this alone: partnerships between the Jewish community and the public sector have flourished and led to innovative solutions to a wide variety of complex problems. On March 18, we will stand together in our shared commitment to protect the most vulnerable, support the programs that preserve our communities, and to promote a more just and equitable society.
I hope to see you there.