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Jewish Journal

Young Dems get J caucus

by Ryan Torok

May 1, 2013 | 12:40 pm

Indicating that a new group will come together around issues of interest to the Jewish community, the official youth arm of the California Democratic Party recently chartered a Jewish caucus.

Established on April 12, the California Young Democrats’ Jewish caucus will back elected Jewish officials and others important to the Jewish community; support Israel and assess anti-Israel speech and demonstrations on college campuses, said caucus chair Ryan Pessah, who lives in Sacramento and works as a legislative consultant for the California Association of Health Facilities.

“With the group’s inception just appearing in the rearview mirror, they look forward to supporting members of the Jewish community in the upcoming elections, as well as connecting with Jewish college groups in hopes of fostering involvement in the political realm and raising awareness for Jewish issues,” Pessah, 25, said in a statement.

California Young Democrats chartered the Jewish caucus during the 2013 California Young Democrats State Convention, held annually in Sacramento. The convention took place April 12-14.

The Jewish caucus is the newest group within the California Young Democrats that is focused around galvanizing support for issues of concern to an ethnic, religious or minority group.

One significant focus will be altering the conversation about Israel on university and college campuses, where Pessah said professors are biased against Israel in their lessons on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He hopes the caucus’ efforts will bring more balance into classrooms.

California Young Democrats, which describes itself as being composed of progressive people, ages 14 to 35, has more than 3,000 active members throughout its more than 70 chapters, according to Kris Octabiano, managing director for the California Young Democrats. 

The movement’s Jewish caucus has approximately 30 members, Pessah said. He told the Journal that he wants to reach out to areas, including San Diego, the Inland Empire and the North Coast region, not currently represented by the caucus, in order to grow it statewide. Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento — places with large Jewish communities — are represented.

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