Gubernatorial candidates J.B. Pritzker and Gov. Bruce Rauner took the podium at separate JUF forums recently, continuing a long election-year tradition of dialogue and advocacy with major candidates on issues of key concern to the Jewish community.
Educating public officials on our community's health and human services agenda, as well as public policies that strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance and encourage philanthropic giving and sound non-profit governance, is a primary focus of the forums. Issues, outlined by JUF Government Affairs Chair David Golder, include healthcare, services for the elderly and disabled, expanded mental health services, charitable tax incentives and, at the state level, implementation of the country's first anti-BDS legislation.
At each event, the audience of JUF, affiliated agency and other Jewish communal leaders active in advocacy efforts in Springfield heard from the candidate and then reinforced policy concerns through statements and questions.
Also in attendance were many JUF Lewis Summer Interns, who had an opportunity to hear directly from the candidates and learn about the community's state policy agenda prior to what for many of them will be the first election they can vote in.
"As part of JUF's long-standing non-partisan approach to public policy and because our community has so much at stake in D.C. and Springfield," JUF Board Chair Michael H. Zaransky said, "these sessions are important opportunities to re-engage with long-standing friends running for office, to hear their vision on issues that directly impact all of us, and for us in turn to share our policy agenda priorities.
"That leaders of both parties, be it in Congress, Springfield or City Hall, look to JUF to partner on policy development and implementation is a testament to our non-partisan approach and to the esteem in which our lay leadership and professional staff are held."