Like all of my Agudah colleagues, I receive many phone calls each week. We are often asked for advice by individuals and institutions who need help or guidance, and we do our best to assist each caller. Some callers though, reach out to us to inquire how they can use their unique circumstances to help the broader community. One such call took place a few days ago.
I received a call from a woman who told me that she was going to be meeting with a powerful elected official at an upcoming event. We had never met before, but she was an active member of the Agudah and wanted to get our advice on how to maximize that meeting for the benefit of the broader Jewish community. With input from our Vice President of Government Affairs, Rabbi Abba Cohen, we reviewed what issues to bring up and gave her the relevant background information. Thankfully, the meeting was phenomenally successful and she was deeply grateful for our guidance. I encourage others to follow her lead.
If you have an opportunity to meet with your elected officials, make sure you go in prepared:
- Find out about the pressing issues either from Agudah staff or local community leaders who are familiar with local issues.
- Thank the official for a position they took or a vote that was beneficial to your community.
- Let them know what current issues are important to you and your community.
- Make an effort to get to know their staff.
- Bring business cards to exchange contact information and continue the conversation at a later date. (It’s amazing how many people don’t think of this – would they go to a business meeting without business cards?)
Getting a selfie with an elected official may be cool to share with friends and followers, (and sometimes even helps the officials to be seen with constituents and community leaders), but with a little preparation, your two-minute interaction can also have long-term positive ramifications for your community.
Rabbi A.D. Motzen is the National Director of State Relations at Agudath Israel of America.