JCRC of Greater Boston to lead study tour of Israel

Massachusetts Community Leaders to Explore Economic Ties to Region

(BOSTON) - The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston will continue its long history of leading Massachusetts community leaders on a study tour of Israel, providing state and local officials with an in-depth look into the political, security, and economic challenges and successes facing Israeli society.

From December 8-18, participants will travel throughout the state, learning from government officials and religious, academic, media and business leaders.

“This trip will allow Massachusetts leaders to deepen their understanding of Israel's politics and culture and examine some of the business and economic ties that bring Israel and Massachusetts together,” said Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of JCRC of Greater Boston.

Josh Zakim, Boston City Counselor (District 8) and Chair of the Study Tour, added, “I am looking forward to developing new relationships on this trip - both with the other elected officials we are traveling with as well as folks in the business, political, and academic communities in Israel.”

Following are the participants in the 2014 Study Tour of Israel.

Josh Zakim (Trip Chair)
Boston City Councilor, District 8

Eric Ritvo
JCRC Council Member

Shaynah Barnes
Brockton City Councilor at Large

Paul Brodeur
State Representative, 32nd Middlesex

Dan Cullinane
State Representative, 12th Suffolk

Mark Cusack
State Representative, 5th Norfolk

Dan Donahue
State Representative, 16th Worcester

Tito Jackson
Boston City Councilor, District 7

Jay Livingstone
State Representative, 8th Suffolk

Paul Mark
State Representative, 2nd Berkshire

Timothy McCarthy
Boston City Councilor, District 5

David Rogers
State Representative, District 24th Middlesex

Jeff Roy
State Representative, District 10th Norfolk

The Massachusetts officials will:

  • Meet with government officials and other influential leaders from all sectors of Israeli society
  • Visit Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and the West Bank
  • Discover the growing economic ties between Israel and Massachusetts
  • Gain new perspectives on modern day Israel
  • Develop a nuanced understanding of the complex political and security challenges facing Israel
  • Encounter Israel’s economy, including its booming research, development, and tech sector

Light up your holidays with JCRC’s match


Jews worldwide will gather tonight around their menorahs to light the Chanukah candles and commemorate the miracle of the oil. Latkes will be eaten, presents will be exchanged, dreidels will be spun. And, thanks to all of our donors, lives will be changed.

During the Festival of Lights, and continuing through December 31, your gift to JCRC will be matched dollar for dollar up to a total of $5,000, due to the generosity of one of our donors. Just like the oil, your tax-deductible donation can help us do more.


Please don’t let this gift match opportunity pass you by. In partnership with our Council's 42 member organizations, the interfaith community and our state and local civic leaders, and with your generous support, JCRC is able to have impact throughout Greater Boston in areas as diverse as childhood literacy, gun violence legislation, and Israel engagement.

You may also call 617-457-8650 to donate by phone. If you previously donated, I thank you for your support.

Wishing you a Happy Chanukah and a joyous holiday season.

Jeremy Burton
Executive Director, JCRC

Racial Disparity Must End

This week’s grand jury decision in the Eric Garner case in New York has, once again, exposed the ugliness of racial disparities and the differential treatment of black men by our criminal and judicial systems. Following so soon on the heels of the Ferguson grand jury decision, it has become all too clear that these events are not limited to any one locality; rather they underscore the enduring legacy of racism in our country, and the persistent gap in access and opportunities across the racial divide. People of all races are taking to the streets in cities around the country reaffirming that “Black Lives Matter.”

As Jews we know all too well the experience of marginalization and dehumanization. We’ve been vilified as “the other” throughout our history, our victimization repeatedly enabled by the silence and inaction of others. We cannot stand idly by as others are denied equal protection under and by the law. While the vast majority of police officers risk their lives daily to protect us, the treatment of all black citizens by members of law enforcement must change. We are hopeful that the outrage expressed through peaceful demonstrations in so many cities, including Boston will serve as a catalyst for systemic change. We join in this call to action to achieve full equality in our nation.

Opportunity to Double Your Impact Extended!

Thank you for joining JCRC and the entire #GivingTuesday community yesterday to kick-off the giving season!  It was a great start but we can do so much more.

Previously, we announced that a generous donor had agreed to match contributions made on #GivingTuesday up to $5,000. Due to the donor’s generosity, the matching offer has been extended until the end of the year - ALL donations made before midnight on December 31st will be matched dollar for dollar up to a total of $5,000!

If you missed your chance yesterday, please consider making a contribution to JCRC this month so we may fully realize this opportunity.

In partnership with our Council's 42 member organizations, the interfaith community and our state and local civic leaders, and with your generous support, JCRC is able to have impact throughout Greater Boston in areas as diverse as childhood literacy, gun violence legislation, and Israel engagement.

Don’t let this exciting opportunity to double YOUR impact pass you by.

Did you know JCRC can receive donations through the AmazonSmile program? On your first visit to AmazonSmile, select the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston to receive donations from eligible purchases before you begin shopping. From then on, when you shop at smile.amazon.com, the AmazonSmileFoundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchase to JCRC. Could there be an easier way to do more?

JCRC of Greater Boston Supports Immigration Reform That Will Protect Millions

Calls on Congress to pass permanent and comprehensive immigration reforms

(BOSTON) – The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston supports the executive actions outlined by President Obama last night, which will prevent about 5 million undocumented immigrants from being deported.

 “American Jews are a community deeply connected to our immigrant experience in this country,” said Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of JCRC. “That history guides us and we will not shut the door on those who came after us. The American Jewish community has long advocated for immigrants’ rights including freedom from persecution, being united with one’s family, and the opportunity to build a better future for one’s family. These basic rights reflect not only Jewish values but our own communal experience in America.”

“As the President stated last night, our immigration system is broken and in need of repair,” added Jill Goldenberg, President of JCRC. “The President seeks to help immigrants who are part of our communities and our friends, and we must not abandon them. We appreciate the executive order and the steps outlined by the President, but this is a temporary fix. Congress still has a responsibility to do its job and pass meaningful, comprehensive immigration reform. We strongly urge Congress to come together now to finish the job that the president has started, for the benefit of all people who call America home.”


JCRC Responds to Attacks in Jerusalem


Statement by Jeremy Burton, Executive Director, and Jill Goldenberg, President, on behalf of the Jewish Community Relations Council:

We are heartbroken and angered as the details of today’s savage attack in Jerusalem emerge. An attack on a house of worship, any house of worship, must be condemned without equivocation. We expect that all people of faith and all leaders of faith communities will condemn today’s terrorist attack and the brutal murder of these four rabbis at prayer.

Beyond the anguish we feel for any attack on worshipers, and for the vile targeting of innocent Jews, Boston’s Jewish community feels a particular connection to today’s events. Three of the four victims identified today were dual Israeli-American citizens and one, Rabbi Mosheh Twersky, z’tl, was a son of Boston and a member of one of our most distinguished families.

Rabbi Twersky was head of the Torat Moshe yeshiva, and the grandson of Rabbi Dr. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, z'l, luminary of Orthodoxy and founder of the Maimonides School in Brookline, of which his grandson was an alumnus. May Rabbi Twersky's memory and the memory of all of today's victims be for a blessing and may their families find comfort in Zion and Jerusalem.

There are those who seek to incite violence through acts of terror and by spreading fear and anger, and diminish hope for a real possibility of peace. Today’s terrorist attack and other attacks in recent weeks are the product of those who would diminish hope and turn us against one another.

It must be noted and amplified that Palestinian President Abbas has condemned today’s attack. It would be a failure to note today’s condemnation yet ignore the fact that in recent weeks Abbas has contributed to the incitement by praising other terrorist perpetrators in Jerusalem as heroes.

While many in the Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim worlds have been quick to condemn today’s horror, some - notably Hamas - have chosen another route: praising and celebrating the murder of Jews in a house of worship. Today’s events underscore again that Hamas is a terrorist organization that celebrates the killing of innocent Jews and seeks the destruction of the state of Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu deserves praise for his actions in recent weeks and today to maintain the status quo on the Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock. He has been resolute in his committment to reject any voices, even those in his own government, that would alter the status quo. We praise the swift efforts today to protect the safety and welfare of all synagogues, mosques, and churches to prevent acts of retaliation while ensuring the security of the Israeli people, Jewish and Arab alike. We join the voices of those who urge restraint from vigilante acts of retaliation amidst our grief and anger. Justice must come through the rule of law and the state, not by the hands of individuals acting outside the law. Those who aided and incited today’s attacks must be brought to justice.

Now is the time to lead our peoples away from the abyss of violence and despair and to renew efforts toward a better future. Even if it seems that the two-state peace we support is not possible right now, we reject steps that will make it harder to get there. We must restore hope of achieving a negotiated peace between the two parties by building economic cooperation, personal connections, and a constituency in both Israeli and Palestinian society prepared to make the hard choices ahead.

Sadly, it is events like this that serve as a horrible and tragic reminder that the only viable resolution to this conflict is a negotiated agreement between Israelis and Palestinians to establish two states sharing one homeland. Terrorism undermines the possibility of peace. The killing of innocent civilians can never be justified and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.

JCRC is available for comment upon request.

JCRC Mourns the Passing of Mayor Thomas M. Menino

JCRC is deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Boston’s longtime mayor, Thomas M. Menino. Mayor Menino was a key partner of the Boston Jewish community throughout his tenure in public office, most notably in his support and commitment to the Youth Jobs Initiative and his belief that Boston belonged to all of its inhabitants.

JCRC worked with the mayor to bring volunteers to the Boston Public Schools through our Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy program, to boost early literacy and foster a love of reading in Boston’s schoolchildren. He championed the founding of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and was a fundamental partner in the creation of the New England Holocaust Memorial. His unifying presence was vital in ensuring the city’s recovery following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.

"The Jewish Community lost a true friend today with the passing of Mayor Thomas Menino," said Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of the JCRC. "He stood with us to promote a more inclusive city where all people would have an opportunity to shape their destiny."

"Our community was fortunate to collaborate with Mayor Menino on many of our shared priorities and values," said Jill Goldenberg, President of the Board of the JCRC. "He had a profound impact on our city and his legacy will live on for years to come."

Our thoughts are with his family and his wife Angela. May his memory be a blessing.

Question Four: A Debate

Published on October 29, 2014 in The Jewish Advocate

A Yes vote supports Jewish values

By Sheila Decter and Jeremy Burton

On Election Day, Nov. 4, Massachusetts voters will be asked to vote on the issue of “earned sick time”, an issue closely tied to important Jewish values. Eighty percent of low-income workers in Massachusetts – close to 1,000,000 workers – cannot take a single day of sick leave without fear of losing their jobs or income. For many low-income workers, missing a single shift would risk their financial security and result in a low-income family falling even farther below the poverty line. A “Yes” on Question 4 would ensure that all workers have the opportunity to earn sick time in order to care for themselves and their loved ones who are ill.

Our Jewish sages teach us, “When a person becomes ill, it is a mitzvah for every person to visit, for we find that the Holy Blessed One visits the sick, as our Sages of Blessed Memory” (Talmud, Bava Metzia 86b) explained the verse (Genesis 18:1) “And G-d appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre…” teaching us that G-d came to visit Abraham when he was sick. We learn here that the obligation to help our friends and neighbors heal from sickness runs deep—so deep that our model for this commandment comes directly from G-d. In our community, there is no question that the sick among us have a right and obligation to do everything possible to heal, so the fact that members of our Massachusetts community are forced every day to choose between their jobs and their health is a failure to uphold our communal values.

Keeping sick workers and kids home keeps our Commonwealth healthy. Most of the nearly million workers in Massachusetts who do not currently earn paid sick time work in the service sector, which includes food and child care workers. These are the people who care for our elderly, serve our food, and care for our children. This means that when threatened with the loss of a job or a day’s pay, a sick person will need to go into work anyway, bringing illness with him or her. And if parents can’t take off from work to care for their sick children, then that means sending sick children to school. Consequently, the lack of “earned sick time” for all workers increases the risk to the public health as sick parents and sick children are not able to rest and get better. Here, in Massachusetts, where we have been on the forefront of universal health care with some of the most prestigious hospitals, health care institutions and researchers, this is an unacceptable and untenable situation.

Health care institutions including Baystate Health, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Tufts Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Partners Health Care, and Steward Health Care have come out in support of earned sick time because they know that this is one solution to a serious public health issue.

And those hospitals, as well as many other businesses, are able to support earned sick time because they know it is also a good business decision. Businesses which implement earned sick time find that it reduces employee turnover, reduces the spread of illnesses at work, increases productivity, lowers expenditures for health care services, and helps their bottom line. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) has demonstrated that the benefits will outweigh costs with a paid sick time policy for Massachusetts workers.

On Nov. 4 when you go to vote, remember the lesson of Abraham and our obligation to all our neighbors when they are sick. Join us in voting “Yes On 4” for earned sick leave in Massachusetts.

Read full article on The Jewish Advocate website