Home / Opinions / LettersRSS Feed
Letter: We need the Wisconsin Jewish Conference
March 12th, 2009
In tough financial times, we face difficult decisions about how to allocate limited communal funds. That is why continued funding of the Wisconsin Jewish Conference, which is in danger of ending due to Milwaukee Jewish Federation budget cuts, is so important (“Federation budget cuts to end two programs, merge two others,” Feb. 27).
For more than 20 years, the conference and its director, Michael Blumenfeld, have provided a strong, effective voice in protecting the rights of Wisconsin Jews, promoting pro-Israel policies and enabling us to leverage additional government funding to supplement our limited resources.
Blumenfeld provides the daily on-the-scene presence that is crucial to building relationships with legislators, the governor, cabinet secretaries, and their staffs.
Investing in the conference pays big dividends in the fiscal effect of the legislation it champions. For example, the conference:
• Successfully advocated to amend recent minimum wage legislation that will save Jewish camps and other agencies thousands of dollars.
• Played a lead role in maintaining property tax exemptions ensuring that Jewish agencies can provide affordable housing for low-income individuals, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
• Has enhanced our state’s Medicaid program to enable our agencies to provide additional services and supports for our seniors and people with disabilities.
• Led the fight to restore food stamps for legal immigrants and refugees.
It has been suggested that other agencies could take on the conference’s work. No other agency can provide the on-the-ground presence in Madison that is necessary for success; nor can any other agency claim to represent Jews throughout the state, as the conference has, providing us with access to many more legislators.
We need the Wisconsin Jewish Conference now more than ever.