Four years ago, in New Jersey’s most recent gubernatorial election, only 39% of New Jersey registered voters – statewide – took the time to cast a ballot. We believe that our congregations can and must do better. That is why we are working with our congregations to design and implement a 2021 civic engagement campaign – this campaign seeks to work with partners in the faith community across lines of difference to challenge our congregations to “Double Your Impact” by documenting that we were able to turn out at least 78% of our respective congregations’ eligible voters.
Our Legislator Conversations, which were the first phase of our Double Your Impact campaign, ran from February through April of 2021 (before candidates for the June primaries were finalized). In that time period we met – and exceeded – our goal of co-hosting eight conversations with sitting legislators to begin to expand our knowledge of what happens in Trenton and how RAC-NJ and our congregations can be effective in our work. Our congregations worked with RAC-NJ leaders and our RAC-NJ Legislator Conversation Toolkit to host the following conversations, which collective reached about 500 people:
- Temple Emeth of Teaneck hosted Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg
- Temple Emanu-El Westfield hosted Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick
- Temple Avodat Shalom of River Edge hosted a combined conversation with both Assemblywoman Lisa Swain and Assemblyman Christopher Tully
- Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel of South Orange and Congregation B’nai Jeshurun of Short Hills jointly hosted Assemblywoman Mila Jasey
- Temple Shaari Emeth of Manalapan hosted Senator Samuel Thompson
- Adath Emanu-El of Mt. Laurel, Congregation M’kor Shalom of Cherry Hill, and Temple Emanuel of Cherry Hill jointly hosted two conversations: first they hosted Senator Troy Singleton, and a week later they hosted a combined conversation with Assemblyman Louis Greenwald and Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt
- Temple Rodeph Torah of Marlboro hosted Senator Declan O’Scanlon
- Temple Beth El of Hillsborough hosted Senator Christopher “Kip” Bateman
These conversations helped to accomplish our goal of putting RAC-NJ on the map for legislators of both political parties.
Now that election season is underway, we will be turning our attention to strategies for engaging voters ranging from candidate forums to state government trivia competitions. Look for our RAC-NJ Candidate Forum Toolkit and strategies for congregational Double Your Impact campaigns after New Jersey’s June 8, 2021 Primary Election. To learn more and get involved with RAC-NJ’s 2021 Civic Engagement Campaign, please reach out to Sarah Blaine or campaign co-chairs Brion Feinberg and Nilene Evans and join RAC-NJ in The Tent.