As Rabbi Doug Kahn noted in a November 4th eJewish Philanthropy article, there is a fair amount of confusion about what exactly a Jewish Community Relations Council does; this is true even among those in the Jewish world. In simple terms, we strive to be the central voice of the organized Jewish community on matters that are religiously, socially, or culturally important to Jews in our area. We work to do so by communicating both inside the Jewish world—by better connecting the Jews of Dayton to one another—and outside of it—by connecting with those non-Jewish groups around Dayton who are our local partners.

This latter role has come into distinct focus over the last few years; “the numbers” should make the reason for that quite clear. The Anti-Defamation League reports: 1) that US anti-Semitic incidents rose 60% in 2017; 2) that this increase, the largest year-to-year increase the ADL ever has tracked, largely was due to a doubling of anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses; and 3) that in Ohio, there were 26 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 (an average of one such incident every other week). The Southern Poverty Law Center also documented that there currently are 953 hate groups operating in the United States, 31 of which are based in Ohio. This places us behind only six other states and tied with one other (Indiana) in statewide presence of hate groups; this means there are more hate groups operating in Ohio than in 42 other states.

…in Ohio, there were 26 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 (an average of one such incident every other week). The Southern Poverty Law Center also documented that there currently are 953 hate groups operating in the United States, 31 of which are based in Ohio.

~ Rabbi Ari Ballaban
JCRC Director

…in Ohio, there were 26 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 (an average of one such incident every other week). The Southern Poverty Law Center also documented that there currently are 953 hate groups operating in the United States, 31 of which are based in Ohio.

~ Rabbi Ari Ballaban
JCRC Director

…in Ohio, there were 26 anti-Semitic incidents in 2017 (an average of one such incident every other week). The Southern Poverty Law Center also documented that there currently are 953 hate groups operating in the United States, 31 of which are based in Ohio.

~ Rabbi Ari Ballaban
JCRC Director

The point of sharing this data is not to stoke fear; cliché as it may sound, that is precisely what these hate groups would want. Instead, the purpose of collecting information like this is to convey the significance of the second aspect of the JCRC’s core goal: to bring the Jewish community into greater conversation with our potential partners in the non-Jewish community and, thus, to ensure that the Jewish community never need face its enemies alone.

Proof of the importance of the JCRC’s work could never have been clearer than in November, specifically in the aftermath of the deadliest-ever incident of anti-Semitism in US history. At vigils hastily organized around the United States, nearly 100,000 people —including countless non-Jews— defiantly assembled to rebuff anti-Jewish hate. In Dayton, when our community gathered at Temple Israel, we numbered approximately 1,300—in a city that claims only to have a total Jewish population of 4,000. In addition to that, members of the Muslim American community quickly managed to raise in excess of $150,000, via crowdfunding, to help support the victims of the shooting.

The work of our JCRC may often go unnoticed, or be misunderstood, but it is far from unimportant. We have redoubled our efforts to engage in coalition-building, bringing together all those in the greater Dayton area who seek to be partners with the Jewish community in the fight against hate. This fight affects everyone—members of persecuted minority communities and those in ethnic or religious majorities alike—so we welcome all who seek to be allies in this struggle. Numbers may not be everything, but we know they, God-willing, will one day soon all be on our side.

Information referenced in this article can be found at www.adl.org.

For more information about the Jewish Community Relations Council, please contact Rabbi Ari Ballaban, JCRC Director at (937) 610-1555 or aballaban@jfgd.net.

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