JCRC Responds to Today’s Attacks in Jerusalem

(NOVEMBER 18–BOSTON)

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

Wishing you a sweet and happy New Year from JCRC!

Looking ahead to a vibrant 5775!

rosh-hashanah-post

Over the past year, we've been fortunate to work with a talented and invested community toward our goal of defining and advancing the values of our community in the public square.

We look forward to a new year full of exciting work together, and we hope you'll join us, either by taking an active role in shaping our shared future, or by making a tax-deductible gift to support our work.

L'Shana Tova!

Jill Goldenberg
President, JCRC

Jeremy Burton
Executive Director, JCRC

Yizkor Service

In memory of the six million.

Sunday September 28, 11:00am-12:00pm
Berlin Chapel at the Statue of Job
Brandeis University, Waltham, MA

Join JCRC, Holocaust survivors, and their families as we honor the memory of the six million who perished in the Holocaust. For more information on this and other Holocaust-related programs, contact Emily Reichman at 617-457-8669.

Sponsored by: American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants of Greater Boston, Boston 3G, Generations After, New England Holocaust Memorial, Hillel at Brandeis University

Update: Governor Signs New Gun Violence Prevention Bill into Law

Earlier this morning, the JCRC joined with Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, legislators, advocacy organizations and community leaders as Governor Deval Patrick signed a new piece of gun violence prevention legislation into law. Over the past year and half, JCRC, in partnership with the MA Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence, has advocated for comprehensive gun legislation to address the tremendous social costs of the existing loopholes in gun laws. Given the lack of any viable federal legislation, our advocacy focused on tightening laws in Massachusetts. And while this bill is not perfect, as no bill ever is, it meets many of the goals that the Coalition set out to accomplish, including:

  • Bringing the Commonwealth into compliance with the Federal NICS background check system;
  • Requiring background checks for private gun sales;
  • Giving police chiefs greater discretion in issuing rifle and shotgun licenses;
  • Advancing suicide awareness and prevention in the Commonwealth through a multifaceted approach;
  • Ensuring the collection of important data to inform future policy-making efforts.

“We congratulate the Governor and Legislature for passing meaningful legislation aimed at addressing the impact of gun violence in all of our communities,” said Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council. “We stand with our allies resolute in our commitment to create safe streets, neighborhoods and homes.”

“In 2014, more than 6,700 people have been killed due to gun violence in the United States,” said Jill Goldenberg, President of the Board of JCRC. “We renew our call upon Congress to work together and pass comprehensive federal legislation to put an end to this senseless violence.”

There is still work to be done to ensure effective implementation and the JCRC is committed to continuing the momentum in the coming months and years.

JCRC Statement Supporting Massachusetts Governor’s Plan to Host Migrant Children

Today, JCRC stood with Governor Patrick in support of his plans for Massachusetts to host migrant children, many of whom have left Central America. The details of the request are being worked out, but the Governor has committed to working with federal officials to find a humane solution.

“Our faith and values implore us to welcome and treat the stranger with dignity,” said Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council.  “Our Jewish experience is filled with examples of being turned away, both here and abroad.  However, our survival and ability to thrive has been based on those communities who have welcomed us with open arms, and it is that spirit which continues to inspire.”

“This is yet another example of the importance of raising our voices to our leaders in Washington to demand that they come together and pass fair and sensible comprehensive immigration reform legislation,” said Jill Goldenberg, President of the Board of the JCRC

Congressman Joe Kennedy III Visits 126 High Street

On July 1st, JCRC welcomed Congressman Joe Kennedy, III to a leadership breakfast where the Congressman outlined his first term in Congress and his vision for the future. Kennedy touched on a wide range of issues including disability employment, senior support services and his thoughts on navigating Middle East policies and politics. He also spoke about the recent ceremony to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Israeli President Shimon Peres. The legislation to award Peres with the Medal was introduced into the House of Representatives by Kennedy and Congressman Trent Franks.

JCRC periodically will host conversations with public and political leaders on various topics of interest and importance to the organized Jewish community.