Sacramento, CA – On a unanimous vote, Senator Ben Allen (D – Santa Monica) was selected as the Vice-Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus at a gathering of Caucus members in San Francisco today. Allen is beginning his third year representing the Westside, Hollywood and South Bay of Los Angeles in the California State Senate.
“I’m honored to assume a leadership role in the Jewish Caucus, a group that is very important to me personally, and which has been one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had since my election to the state Senate two years ago,” Allen said.
The Legislative Jewish Caucus was established in 2012 by then-Assemblymembers Marty Block and Bob Blumenfield, and then-Speaker John Pérez. The 2017 Jewish Caucus will be comprised of 15 state Senators and Assemblymembers, including two associate members.
The Caucus engages in a variety of activities including hosting the annual Holocaust Memorial Ceremony in the State Capitol, a solemn program on the Assembly Floor honoring Holocaust survivors, children of survivors and concentration camp liberators from throughout the state. It also sponsors legislation, such as AB 2844 of 2016, which prohibits the state of California from contracting with companies that violate state anti-discrimination laws by participating in boycotting, divestment and sanctions (BDS) targeting the State of Israel and its citizens. This measure was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in October.
The Caucus’s legislative agenda also included a measure to reaffirm and strengthen that State of California’s Memo of Understanding with Israel on issues of mutual interest such as renewable energy, drought management, cybersecurity, high tech and bio tech. The Caucus was instrumental in the adoption of Principles of Tolerance by the University of California Board of Regents earlier this year to combat the growing incidence of anti-Semitic acts on UC campuses.
At today’s Caucus meeting, Assemblymember Marc Levine (D – Marin County) was selected as the Chair of the Jewish Caucus. The immediate past Chair was Senator Marty Block of San Diego who did not seek re-election to the Senate, and the Vice-Chair post was held previously by Levine.
In 2015, Allen led the effort to include $2 million in funding in the State Budget to expand the Nonprofit Security Grant Program which provides funding to organizations that are potential targets of hate-motivated violence. This funding has been used by many organizations, such as Temples and Jewish schools, to strengthen their physical security in the face of threats and acts of intolerance.
Allen is a member of the Kehillat Israel Congregation. He is a graduate of the Jewish Federation’s New Leaders Project, and has visited Israel numerous times.
To learn more about the work of the Legislative Jewish Caucus, go to www.jewishcaucus.legislature.ca.gov.
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