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NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF JEWISH LEGISLATORS

--NAJL--

MISSION STATEMENT


PREAMBLE

The National Association of Jewish Legislators (NAJL) is a non-profit membership organization and network, open to all legislators and supporters who self-identify as Jewish as well as those who identify themselves as “allies.”

A vibrant Jewish organization for elected officials matters. State legislative and local governmental bodies craft domestic policies in areas ranging from health care and welfare reform to investment funds and education.  Moreover, block grants administered by states have a direct impact on all of our lives. Jewish elected officials will continue to have important roles to play in shaping public policy:  to promote important issues; monitor scores of legislative bills and initiatives; and work in collaboration with Jewish federations, community relations councils, and other Jewish communal groups.

Headline-making issues face our community in states and localities.  During recent legislative sessions, Jewish legislators have been at the forefront in numerous states helping draft and enact laws protecting the rights of Holocaust survivors and their families regarding Swiss bank account distribution as well as fair and equitable tax treatment.  Jewish legislators have also helped lead the fight for hate crime legislation, workplace freedom laws, religious freedom statutes, access to health and  human services program funding, and protection for newly arrived Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union and other countries.

 

The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) aimed against Israel has been in the forefront in many state capitols and must be addressed in a responsible and fair manner. This is one of the most important issues facing Jewish elected officials.  Providing objective information on BDS and sharing state strategies is critical.

 

Jewish leaders are pivotal--the vision they offer is a major contribution to better and enlightened state government policy. Very often they are key opinion leaders and policy makers who have made a dramatic impact on the Jewish community and on all Americans. Moreover, many former state and local leaders now serve in leadership positions at the federal government level, including in the U.S. Senate, U.S. House and Presidential Administration.

PROGRAMS

NAJL’s programs and efforts shall focus on:

Creating a forum to exchange ideas about shared values and how those values inform – or might inform – legislative activities and priorities;
Providing the opportunity to network, share, obtain advice and identify allies on issues before state governments
Developing a mechanism for legislators to share experiences, proactively engage in issues, react to issues of importance to the American Jewish Community and strategize ways to address cultural prejudices, assumptions, language, and, as it occurs, anti-Semitism; and
Maintaining a platform to develop ideas to engage non-Jewish colleagues in search of greater mutual understanding and to work on matters of shared interest.

NAJL will pursue common interests with African American, Latino, Asian American and other elected official organizations. Whether the issues are diversity, health and human services, discrimination, immigration, crime, or others, elected officials from every background should be better positioned to develop new methods for cooperation and understanding.  

 NAJL shall:

Work with Jewish elected officials in Israel, state and local jurisdictions in the United States, and other nations on areas of common interest. This effort could lead to an international Jewish elected officials conference similar to the sessions convened by International Conference of Jewish Parliamentarians (ICJP) in the past.
Monitor state and local legislative proposals affecting  Jewish issues and Israel, including by cataloguing and developing strategies for combatting boycott/divestment efforts directed against Israel.
Promote and share outreach efforts, including Jewish-caucus sponsored events around Passover, Tu B’Shevat and other observances (as may be appropriate).
Develop a “best practices” guide addressing Jewish holidays, observances and practices to be provided to State House and Senate leadership.
Dialogue with Jews seeking state legislative office.
Explore opportunities for a study tours to Israel and involvement with the ICJP.
Schedule a general membership meeting in conjunction with NCSL Summits and other regional and national legislative meetings to discuss current issues of interest to Jewish state legislators.