Our Efforts In DC - May 13, 2022

This week, some 300 leaders from Jewish Federations across the country visited Washington, DC to lobby Congressional leaders in both parties on behalf of the national Jewish community. Our main focus was to urge Congress to prioritize spending programs in fiscal year 2023 to support the safety and security of Jewish and other communities, provide for Holocaust survivors, combat hate crimes and antisemitism, promote diversity and inclusivity, promote peace in the Middle East, and provide a safety net for those in economic and mental distress. Of course, we took the opportunity to discuss Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees coming to this country.
Here are more specifics on spending requests:
Nonprofit Security Grant Program -- The Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) has been an important tool to help secure Jewish and other communities experiencing growing threats to their safety and well-being, sadly, like what has happened here in Portland. As I mentioned last week, NSGP provides grants to nonprofits to help fund security measures such as inspection and screening systems, physical barriers, and development of emergency preparedness plans. Last year, $250 million was appropriated. However, even at this increased level, application requests to secure faith-based institutions far exceed available resources. Therefore, we are pushing for no less than the
$360 million President Biden requested in his proposed 2023 budget.
Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program -- Approximately 50,000 Holocaust survivors live in the United States today, including some 100+ in Oregon. Unfortunately, because of their personal histories, Holocaust survivors are subject to increased risk of depression, social isolation, and extremely poor health outcomes if institutionalized, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these conditions. With Congress’ support, the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program (HSAP) remains a critical lifeline for survivors, their families, and providers. And, due to the program’s success, providers, including our own Jewish Family and Child Service, are now able to take their unique approach to trauma-informed care to support other aging adults who also have been exposed to traumatic events. Congress is being asked to appropriate $10 million for the program in fiscal year 2023 -- $5 million to build on previous advances serving the Holocaust survivor population and an additional $5 million to further embed person-centered, trauma-informed approaches to care in all parts of the aging services network.
Jabara-Heyer NO HATE ACT -- Jewish Federations took the lead in advocating for passage of the Jabara-Heyer NO HATE ACT, which helps protect communities at risk of hate crimes by improving hate crime identification, data collection, and reporting by law enforcement. This law represents a significant step in addressing the rising hate threatening communities by assisting the FBI in collecting hate crimes data and providing the Department of Justice with better tools to analyze these crimes. Funding will incentivize states and local governments to transition to the National Incident Based Reporting System, a more sophisticated and detailed crime reporting system that will improve the quality of hate crimes data collected by the federal government and enable states to establish hate crime reporting hotlines designed to assist victims who might otherwise be reluctant to report these crimes. It is critical that $15 million be appropriated to support this program.
Middle East Partnership for Peace Act -- Jewish Federations were proud to lead advocacy efforts in support of the passage of the Nita M. Lowey Middle East Partnership for Peace Act (MEPPA), which authorizes up to $250 million per year for five years to support peacebuilding programs in a meaningful effort to advance peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians. We lobbied for an increase to $500 million for fiscal year 2023.
Emergency Food and Shelter Program -- Jewish Federation-supported human service agencies are on the front lines providing a variety of services, including food and rental assistance, health, and mental health support to individuals in need, regardless of faith, background, or ability to pay. The Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) fortifies nonprofit and public programs that provide shelter, food, and related essential supports to stabilize families facing immediate economic disaster. Given the continuing heightened levels of food and shelter insecurity due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for fiscal year 2023 Congress is being asked for $280 million.
Mental Health Services -- To address surging unmet behavioral health needs across the country being seen firsthand by our Jewish Federation-supported network of provider agencies, more funding is needed to expand the infrastructure that supports the nation’s response system. This includes increasing local and regional mental health and substance abuse crisis call center capacity and mobile behavioral health crisis response, as well as expanding coordinated and integrated care models like Certified Behavioral Health Clinics. Essential to all these efforts, we recognize we must strengthen the behavioral health workforce and incentivize more people to enter and remain in this field.
Your support of the Jewish Federation allows our collective network to ensure robust funding for these key programs that support healthy, safe, and caring communities.
A few community announcements:
  • Mazel tov to Aliza Brodkin, a 6th grade student at Maayan Torah Day School, for winning first place in the Legacy Heritage Foundation’s Better Together middle school essay contest. Aliza’s essay was selected out of 3,000 entries from across the country.
  • A James Recycling Drop Off Event will be held in the parking lot of the Mittleman Jewish Community Center this Sunday from 10:00 a.m. - 12:30 pm. The event is an opportunity to dispose of some hard-to-recycle items, including a variety of plastics, Styrofoam, and small electronics. For more details click here.
  • As the war continues in Ukraine, the Jewish community has responded with care and compassion to those suffering – here is the latest updateWe invite you to a special community program, United for Peace in Ukraine, next Tuesday, May 17 at 7:00 p.m. at Congregation Beth Israel (1972 NW Flanders). If you cannot join in person, the program will be livestreamed.
  • Join with the Jewish Federation, United in Spirit, and SOLVE on Sunday, May 22 from 12:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. to pick up trash around the Grotto, especially the area including Skidmore Street and 92nd Avenue. Let’s help clean up the neighborhood and improve its condition. Register here.
Shabbat shalom.


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