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October 10, 2015 | 27th Tishrei 5776

Following-Up after Advocacy Events

Your follow up efforts are just as important as preparation and the actual day of advocacy. You should follow up with the elected officials and staff members you meet with, as well as the participants and volunteers from your congregations.

Follow up with the elected officials may include:

  • Writing a letter or email thanking your leader (or their staff) for meeting with you. Use this time to reinforce what you are asking him or her to do and to thank them if they have supported your issue in the past. If there were questions you could not answer in your meeting, respond to them now. If he or she had a specific argument opposing your position in the meeting, write one or two sentences refuting their argument.
  • Submitting letters or op-ed pieces to your local newspaper. You can easily turn your follow-up letter into a piece to submit, or write a new one. Use the “Press” section above for guidance.
  • Hold a call-in day at your synagogue to call your state representatives. This could be held while parents are waiting for their children after religious school. Provide participants with phone numbers and a short set of talking points. Personalize the calls based on whether or not you met with the leader and whether or not they have supported your issue in the past. You can work with the media to publicize this effort as well.
  • Invite your elected officials to speak at your synagogue about the issue on which your congregation is focusing; this allows for greater understanding of your concerns and closer relations with your representatives. Elected officials can be invited to speak from the pulpit, to address an annual meeting or a social justice educational forum, or simply to be present at a major social justice event, such as a Mitzvah Day. They will be interested because it is a wonderful photo opportunity for them. You should be interested because it may increase press interest in the event and, most of all, it will expose the officials to your synagogue community and its serious commitment to these issues. (During an electoral campaign season in which the official is running for re-election, extra care must be taken to avoid appearances of improper electioneering.) Pick a time to discuss your issue – formally or informally – at a pre-event dinner, in the introduction to the talk, or in the question and answer people. Use the opportunity to educate the official about your community’s particular concerns regarding this issue, as well as to be educated by him/her.

Follow up within your congregation may include:

  • Submitting an article to your temple bulletin and to post on your synagogue’s website about your advocacy day and to announce your next activities on this issue.
  • Follow up by phone, mail, or email with the participants and volunteers at your congregation who participated. Thank them for their hard work and tell them about future opportunities to stay involved.
  • Hold a special “Health Care Shabbat.” Invite the participants and volunteers you’re your advocacy day, include related readings, and have participants share their experiences lobbying with the congregation.
  • Work with the Social Action Committee, adult education classes, brotherhoods, and sisterhoods in your congregation again; tell them how powerful the day was and brainstorm ways for these organizations to become or stay involved.
  • Bring in the youth of your synagogue by running a program with your youth group on universal health care and the importance of advocacy. Do an advocacy training, encourage them to hold their own advocacy day, and keep working with them to execute their day.

You can also work on engaging the larger community:

  • You might also want to work to engage the local Jewish community in your issue. Contact other congregations about holding a presentation on your advocacy day at their congregations, or invite the Social Action Committees of these congregations to come to your synagogue to learn more. Run a joint youth group program for your area high school students. If there is a Jewish Community Relations Council in your area, contact them to see if they would be interested in expanding the project beyond the Reform Movement.
  • Engage other faiths in your advocacy ideas. Interfaith groups have an incredible amount of impact on elected officials. Contact churches, mosques, and temples in your area and try to set up a meeting with the head of their social action or programmatic activities. Members of your congregation can help hold educational programs and advocacy training, perhaps leading up to another, interfaith lobby day in your state capital.
  • Stay involved with organizations in your state working on universal health care. Continue to attend meetings and actively participate in their current and future activities. If no such organization exists, form your own. You can contact national organizations that work on health care to see if they have affiliates in your state, or contact unions, local medical schools, and other relevant organizations based in your state directly to recruit them. If you have doctors in your congregation, talk to them about local medical organizations who might want to engage in advocacy. Formulate goals and an advocacy strategy, and advertise your first meeting.

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