JCRC Director Rabbi Ari Ballaban recently attended the National JCRC Conference. When I think of JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Council), I think about what it was like when I was a volunteer many years ago.
At that time, JCRC focused on large scale efforts ~ Civil Rights, Soviet Jewry, combatting anti-Semitism, and promoting support for Israel. As time marched on and our global climate changed, things seemed to shift in JCRC. Anti-Semitism was on the decline. Many Soviet Jews immigrated to other countries. Progress was made in the Civil Rights movement. In fact, the “need” for JCRCs seemed to be on the decline. (Click here and here for links to articles pertaining to this very topic).
Unfortunately, we find ourselves at a place in time where we are slipping backwards. Yes, we continue to move forward with certain things, such as technological and medical advancements; yet areas in which we made so much progress years ago are beginning to regress. Anti-Semitism is on the rise. Civil Rights issues are bubbling to the surface. And there are rising tensions pertaining to the existence of Israel.
Frankly, it saddens me. To look at how far we had come only to be plagued with increasing dissonance is disheartening.
If there was ever a time to reaffirm our commitment to JCRC, it is now. Rabbi Ballaban has made wonderful progress in the short time he has been with us. He has convened a Rapid Response Team to tackle urgent issues. We are actively working on compiling policy statements. Most importantly, we are dedicated to increasing our community relations efforts. Rabbi Ballaban continues to contact universities, community groups, and national organizations to find out how we can support each other and tackle the issues of today.
Over the next four weeks, we have two programs which will focus on anti-Semitism and civility. The first program is next Wednesday, February 27th, titled “Critical Conversations: The Emotional Burden of Rising Anti-Semitism.” This program is in coordination with Jewish Family Services. You can find more information about the program here.
In addition, a program titled “From Civil Discourse to Critical Conversations” will be held on Sunday, March 24th and focus on conducting more civil, productive conversations on divisive issues. You can find out more about this program by clicking here.
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