Jewish Federation of San Diego: A Conversation with Assemblymember Marc Levine

Friday, July 6, 2018

Jewish Federation of San Diego

By Elissa Einhorn

Assemblymember Marc Levine represents the 10th Assembly District in California, which encompasses the North San Francisco Bay Area. He is also Chair of the California Legislative Jewish Caucus.

Why does California need a Jewish Legislative Caucus?

When I was first elected, there were not a lot of Jews in the Legislature. The two of us who ran were not supposed to win. We were the underdogs. It made sense to join together like the African-American, Latino, Women’s, LGBT, and Asian Pacific Islander Caucuses.

As Jewish history has shown, Jews have always come together around issues of concern; we are immersed and united about issues of concerns in California. At the same time, there was a rise in anti-Semitism around the world. We wanted to make sure the views of the Jewish community were heard.

What is the mission of the Caucus?

Our mission is to provide a Jewish voice for justice, equality, and progress. The mission distills Jewish values.

My son’s Torah portion for his Bar Mitzvah is tzedek, tzedek, tirdof (justice, justice, shall you pursue). There is a strong connection to justice for everybody, there needs to be equality for everyone, and progress defines the path we take to make sure we all are equal.

The Caucus has responded to issues ranging from college campus speech to Poland's Holocaust legislation to DACA and immigration. How do you identify issues that you want to consider and respond to?

In this era, there is so much going on that effects the Jewish people and everyone. Our work could be never-ending. In Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Father), it says we are not responsible for doing the work, but we can’t ignore it. We have to have impact and meaning. There is no shortage of ways to do that. We joined with other ethnic caucuses around immigration and the Muslim travel ban in opposition to these policies.

Predating this, two laws protecting immigrants were passed and another one is on its way. This is something that speaks to the Jewish experience and compels us to act.