Author: JCRC

Statement on Presidential Tax Disclosure

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) announced today that it would support legislation requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns before appearing on the ballot in Massachusetts. JCRC endorses MA S. 365, An Act Restoring Financial Transparency in Presidential Elections.

In a message to the community, the leadership of JCRC said:

“We live in a time when the norms of a healthy constitutional democracy are threatened. While this challenge to the American experiment did not emerge overnight, its intensity has heightened. Throughout American history – when there is an erosion of practices that serve to ensure a healthy check and balance on executive power, or that safeguard the ability  of citizens to be informed about our elected leaders – we, the people, have taken measures to codify the ones we value with new laws to protect our democracy.

“Since the 1970s, candidates for the Presidency – both Republicans and Democrats alike – have voluntarily shared with the public their tax returns and other financial information. These disclosures have allowed citizens to make more informed decisions as we choose our leaders, with insight into their interests and dealings.

“As we look to future elections, it is no longer a given that aspirants for the highest office will voluntarily disclose their taxes, and absent action, there is no real incentive to comply with the norm. Given the significant public benefit of this information, JCRC believes that it is necessary to codify as law that presidential candidates be required to disclose their tax returns in order to appear on the ballot.

“JCRC believes that a vibrant constitutional democracy is the foundation of our nation’s success and has made the United States a haven for Jews and other minorities. As we see our democratic norms threatened, now is the time to come together and take the necessary steps to defend that which makes us great. JCRC compliments Massachusetts State Senator Michael Barrett (Third Middlesex) for his leadership in filing S.365 and JCRC supports efforts to ensure the rights of voters to make informed decisions in future elections.”

Iran and Our Fractured Politics

Last Friday, President Trump announced that he would not certify to Congress that Iran was in compliance with, nor that it was in the United States’ national interest to abide by, the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan on Action (JCPOA), aka the Iran Deal. It is no secret that the American Jewish community was and remains deeply divided over the agreement; we were nearly evenly split between those who supported and opposed this two years ago, with significant and enduring discord over its implementation.

In 2015, while JCRC did not take a position for or against the deal, we advocated that Congress address what we identified as flaws in the agreement, including the quality of the inspection regime and the so-called sunset clause. We were also concerned that  the original agreement was not more expansive, addressing not only Iran’s nuclear program but also their role as a state sponsor of terror and a destabilizing actor in the region. But the deal didn’t address those issues, and by most accounts, the Iranians are abiding by the agreement to which we committed.

I, for one, am hard-pressed to see how unilaterally walking away from the JCPOA now is the best way to bring the other international partners back to the table to deal with the flaws. I suspect that a different, more prudent, president would have certified the deal and begun to lay the groundwork for other nations to come to the table on the non-nuclear issues, and to begin to plan for the future.

But here we are. The President has made his decision and we’re going to need Congress to figure some of this out over the next two months, in accordance with the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act that we vigorously supported in 2015.  And while – narrowly speaking – we’re still discussing the issues from 2015 about the quality of the agreement and a strategy for ensuring that Iran never has the capability to threaten Israel with nuclear annihilation, we also need to discuss a larger and more urgent national challenge: The reality that American credibility on the world stage is suffering.

This phenomenon didn’t start with the election of President Trump. Our nation has exhibited a seesaw-like vacillation with key foreign policy issues on the world stage over the past few administrations. To name just a few examples:

  • In 2001 President Bush walked away from the Kyoto Protocol, a climate treaty signed by President Clinton.
  • President Obama didn’t keep our commitment to guarantee Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty, a promise made by Clinton in 1994, when that nation gave up its status as the third largest nuclear power on earth.
  • And President Clinton might have made more headway with Israeli and Palestinian leaders at Camp David in 2000 if the parties could have been confident that our next administration would honor his commitments.

The list goes on and on. Suffice to say that our current president – by walking away from the Paris Accord, being dragged kicking and screaming to uphold commitments to NATO’s mutual defense compact – is exacerbating, in the extreme, a problem that is deeper than just him. We are challenged to persuade the world to trust us when we make a 180-degree turn every four to eight years. In the global arena, with regard to the United States, “our word is our bond” is becoming a joke. Our national credibility will take a long time to repair.

This problem starts at home, in our politics on the left and the right, where everything, including foreign policy, has become a place to score points and to advocate – as vociferously as possible – the “opposite” view from those on the other side of the aisle.

We need Congress to come together and value our long-term role as a stabilizing force on the global stage. Our commitments should be our commitments. Our allies should know what broadly-held principles of ours endure. They should be secure in the knowledge that we won’t be breaking our word every time the White House changes hands.

We need a foreign policy that is grounded in a bipartisan center that can and will hold together against challenges from those on both extremes of our politics. We may even need to reduce the power of the presidency to make commitments on the world stage that lack broad congressional support. It is not healthy for democracy when so much power rests in the actions and opinions of the Executive. It is not healthy that – and there’s plenty of blame to go around here – less and less of the big stuff happens without a treaty or codified bipartisan majority support from Congress.

So yes, we need to get serious about the Iranian role in the region and about the particular flaws of the JCPOA. But we also need to get serious about the damage that our domestic fractures have caused for our place on the world stage. Starting right now, our leaders need to come together and put forth a strategy, emerging from and supported by a bipartisan cohort in Congress. We need a way forward on Iran that is rooted in a commitment to steadfast American leadership over time.

We need some new thinking to break through the impasse that has come to define our foreign policy. And the next two months, as Congress deals with the Iran Deal, would be a good place to start.

Shabbat Shalom,


Statement from JCRC on Las Vegas Mass Shooting

For the second time in two years, we awoke to the horrifying news that our nation had endured the worst mass shooting in our history. The news out of Las Vegas this morning is heartbreaking – and enraging.

We extend our heartfelt prayers to all of the victims and to the families in Las Vegas who are only now finding out about the loss of loved ones. And we recognize that thoughts and prayers are not enough; not for us as engaged citizens and most of all, not for our elected leaders charged with the responsibility of ensuring our safety.

We do not yet know the motive for this heinous crime.  What we know is that regardless of the motive - whether in San Bernardino, California or Roseburg, Oregon, at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, at the Pulse Night Club in Tampa, at a Congressional baseball practice in suburban Washington, or now at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas – these acts of violence are heinous and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. We must seek to know the motive and we must have an honest national conversation about these actors.

We do not yet know the toll of those taken from us this morning. What we know is that on an average day, 93 Americans are murdered by gun violence, nearly 12,000 every year, at 25 times the average rate in other developed countries. We know that even as these mass shootings horrify us and capture our attention, thousands more will die by gunfire – in bystander violence, in domestic violence, by suicide or crimes that will disproportionately impact communities of color - without the media attention we see this morning.

We do not yet know how this gunman acquired his weapons. What we know is that common sense gun safety regulation, while safeguarding the ability of law-abiding American to own firearms for personal use, can save lives. The organized Jewish community was a leader in the successful 2014 effort by Mass Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence to adopt reasonable legislation; legislation that has contributed to Massachusetts having one of the lowest gun death rates in the nation.

We renew our commitment to working for comprehensive federal laws to reduce further gun violence and save lives. Such action will come too late for those who were taken from us this morning. We must not wait even one more day to demand action that will save others still with us.

JCRC and CJP Statement on Har Adar Terror Attack

This morning we awoke to the heartbreaking news of a terror attack on Israelis. The attack took place in Har Adar, a Jewish community northwest of Jerusalem when a terrorist opened fire on a group of Israeli security officers as they were opening the settlement entrance to Palestinian workers.

The three murdered Israelis are border policeman Solomon Gavriyah, age 20, from Be'er Yaakov, Youssef Ottman, age 25, from Abu Ghosh and Or Arish, age 25, a resident of Har Adar. A fourth man was seriously injured in the attack and underwent surgery at the Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem.

The terrorist from the nearby Palestinian village of Bayt Surik, was shot and killed by security forces at the scene. Hamas praised the attack and called for others to carry out similar ones. United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov responded with a statement, “It is deplorable that Hamas and others continue to glorify such attacks, which undermine the possibility of a peaceful future for both Palestinians and Israelis. I urge all to condemn violence and stand up to terror.”

Sgt. Solomon Gaviriya, Youssef Ottman, and Or Arish.

Our hearts go out to the bereaved families of the victims, and we pray for a full and speedy recovery of the wounded. In these Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we pray for peace and security for our brothers and sisters in Israel. May all of us be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life.

JCRC Statement on Roger Waters concerts in Boston

Roger Waters, lead singer and co-founder of Pink Floyd, is coming to Boston as part of 20-city North American tour. He will be performing here on September 27th and 28th, just prior to Yom Kippur.

In addition to his music, Waters is known for political activism and has been a vocal supporter of the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions movement (BDS), designed to isolate Israel in the international community. Waters has made many harsh accusations against Israel and has publicly called on other artists and musicians to support BDS. This summer, he engaged in a public argument with the band Radiohead and encouraged them to cancel a scheduled concert in Tel Aviv. Despite Waters' pressure, Radiohead went forward with their concert.

While we encourage discussion and debate about Israeli and Palestinian policies, we reject conduct and language that demonizes, delegitimizes, or challenges Israel’s right to exist.

Waters has regularly violated the terms of constructive dialogue, delegitimizing Israel by:

  1. Actively seeking to undermine recognition of the Jewish people to self-determination;
  2. Denying Israel the right of self-defense possessed by every other nation;
  3. Equating contemporary Israeli policies with those of the Nazis, a comparison that has been defined as anti-Semitic by the U.S. State Department;
  4. Characterizing Israel as an apartheid state;
  5. Advocating boycotts of Israeli goods, academic, or cultural activities intended as punitive measures against Israel;
  6. Singling out Israel for international sanction that asks Israel to behave in ways not asked of other nations;
  7. Employing long-standing anti-Jewish motifs, such as those that assert Jewish control or conspiracy to control financial institutions, media, or government.

It is clear that BDS is a failed tactic because it complicates the peace process by focusing the blame on one party and ignoring incitement and violence perpetuated by some Palestinians against Israelis. While music and the arts can be used as tools to promote mutual recognition and understanding, Waters has instead decided to use his platform to promote divisiveness and Israeli isolation. The only way to reach a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians is through the two-state solution, directly negotiated by the two parties. This goal has long been supported by the American and Israeli governments and the Palestinian Authority. The BDS movement offers no constructive path to peace, instead attempting to make Israelis feel so isolated and under so much pressure that they will demand an end to the occupation without regard for valid security concerns. This only makes negotiation between the parties more difficult.

Rather than undertaking actions that isolate and assign blame to only one side in a complex conflict, we who live outside of Israel should engage in processes that help create conditions conducive to the two-state solution. We must support Israelis and Palestinians building co-existence and mutual recognition through people-to-people initiatives, urge both parties to refrain from behaviors that move us farther from a just and lasting peace, and ultimately encourage the parties to resume direct negotiations leading to a comprehensive end of conflict agreement. We hope that when Waters appears in Boston he will focus on his music instead of attacking Israel and its supporters.

The Legacy of Connie S. Birnbaum 

I never had the privilege of meeting Connie Spear Birnbaum, who died in 2003 at age 48 of breast cancer. But as I’ve come to learn about her much too short life, it’s clear that she left behind a powerful legacy; a call for Jewish unity in our community.

Connie moved to Boston to pursue her Masters in Jewish Communal Service at Brandeis University. It was here that she met and married an amazing fellow, Dr. Herbert Birnbaum, and together, they raised a family. She pursued a vision for Jewish community that is even more urgent today than when she served as the Unity Associate for the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts. That awesome job title – by definition, working for community unity despite our differences – defined what she was all about.

In a 1989 interview, Connie replied to a question about whether there could be unity in the Jewish community, “There are, to be sure, many skeptics among us, but I am not one of them. Philosophically, I believe in the value and necessity of K’lal Yisrael (the Jewish People).”

To hear her husband, Herb, tell it, “Her work bridged congregations and denominations, helping those from all affiliations to build an understanding that no one group of Jews has all the answers to the exclusion of others. As in the post-Impressionist artistic style of pointillism, she saw beyond the individual dots of color on the canvas to appreciate the brilliance of the big picture.”

This is why the Jewish Community Relations Council is honored that, after 13 years of stewardship by the Synagogue Council, Connie’s family – Herb, and their children Benjamin, Ilanna, and Ariella – has entrusted us with the annual Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture, to continue advancing it as a force for good and a signature event of Boston’s Jewish community.

This year’s lecture will be delivered on Tuesday, September 26th at Congregation Beth El-Atereth Israel in Newton. Our keynote speaker, Rabbi Dr. Meir Soloveichik, is the rabbi of Congregation Shearith Israel in New York City, founded in 1654 as the first Jewish congregation in North America. Through this lecture we also mark a return of the storied Soloveichik rabbinic line – merging tradition with modernity, science with Torah – back to Boston where his great uncle, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, lived and taught. Rabbi Dr. Soloveichik, whose topic is entitled, “Rembrandt and the Rabbis: What the Artist Teaches Us About Preparing for Yom Kippur,” will enlighten us about the Dutch painter Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn and his perspective on Jewish customs in preparing for Yom Kippur. The lecture is free and open to the public, though we invite you to register in advance here.

In these times when our community, and our society at large, are increasingly fractured in our civic discourse – unable  to bridge our differences, struggling to find common ground – Connie’s attentiveness to all Jewish voices and  interests from across our diverse community  continues to inspire.  Her legacy challenges us at JCRC to be the best we can be at convening the disparate parts of the Jewish community and weaving them into a powerful and united network. Her message - that none of us has a monopoly on the right answers, and that all of us benefit from the inclusion of each other in shared community - endures.

Connie’s memory is for a blessing. I invite you to join us in experiencing that blessing and legacy on September 26th.

Shabbat Shalom,


Back to School with GBJCL | A Message from Our Literacy Program Director

In the spirit of back-to-school, this week's message is from Rebecca Shimshak, the Director of our Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy program.

As summer ends and a new year of learning begins, school staff throughout Greater Boston are working feverishly to prepare for their students’ arrival. Here at JCRC, our nearly 300 Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy (GBJCL) volunteers are also gearing up to return to their partner schools. To mark this “back-to-school” moment, I’d like to share a glimpse inside one of our 25 GBJCL schools, The Arnone Community School of Brockton, a part of our program for nearly a decade, through their partnership with an incredible team of volunteers from Temples Beth Emunah and Chayai Shalom of Easton.

The Arnone’s Principal Colleen Proudler (left) was recently featured at our annual JCRC Celebrates fundraiser, where we celebrated GBJCL’s 20th anniversary and honored the work of our partners. In Principal Proudler’s remarks, she revealed compelling insights about her school, the realities of her students’ lives, and the impact of our program on her community. A large urban school, the Arnone’s students face daunting challenges: 65% are economically disadvantaged, 92% qualify for free or reduced lunch, 75% are high-needs, and more than 3% of these students are dealing with homelessness.

Principals like Proudler understand that a quality education requires depth of relationships in addition to skill building. As she told us,

… Literacy skills are a key component to a successful future and, all too frequently, these high-risk students lag well behind their peers. I could speak to you for hours about the research that demonstrates the need for explicit vocabulary instruction or the number of minutes a child should spend reading each day to become fluent. But nothing sparks a love of reading in a child better than sharing a book with a caring adult. The [GBJCL] tutors working at Arnone nurture that love of reading each and every day.

Remarkably, Principal Proudler takes the time to get to know each of the GBJCL tutors personally. She observed a particularly telling interaction between one tutor and his student.

Seymour Newberger was a ninety-one-year-old retired engineer who tutored at the Arnone for several years. Typically tutors work one or two hours a week, but Mr. Newberger worked all day, every day… I would frequently find him building bridges with the third graders in a classroom or working with small groups of fifth graders in the science lab.

One day, I observed a fifth-grade girl arguing with him... She walked away from him in a huff and as I was walking over to intervene, he called over his shoulder, “…Fine, leave. But your answer is still wrong!” The girl stopped dead in her tracks. She turned around, marched back over to the table, and sat right down. He calmly picked up a pencil and began to reteach the problem. After she left, I asked him how he knew she would come back. He told me she was a very good mathematician, but made careless errors and got angry when they were pointed out to her. He also knew that her ego would never let her walk away from a problem without the correct answer.

That student has since graduated from the Arnone, but I am certain that she will never forget how Mr. Newberger pushed her to never settle for anything less than her best effort. Mr. Newberger passed away last year and he is sorely missed at the Arnone. His spirit of service, dedication, and commitment embody the essence of GBJCL and what makes it so special to the Arnone.

Today, volunteer support is even more critical to schools like the Arnone. Facing a $10 million school budget deficit and the prospect of classes as large as 30 students, essential services for students in Brockton are in serious jeopardy. As she struggles to respond to this crisis, Principal Proudler expressed her relief that through GBJCL, she can count on her students to continue benefiting from small group instruction and personalized attention.

Students at the Arnone School celebrating 20 years of GBJCL (click to enlarge)

We are privileged to support schools like the Arnone, where committed volunteers like Mr. Newberger have real impact as they help students carve out their path in life. If you are interested in joining our cadre of GBJCL volunteers, registration is now open for the 2017-2018 school year for either tutoring weekly or time-limited special projects. No educational background is needed, just a desire to help and time to serve.

I look forward to celebrating another successful year together with GBJCL and all of our partners.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rebecca Shimshak,
Director, Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy

Asking and Acting | A Millennial Message from Our Senior Synagogue Organizer

We have spent this summer at JCRC  - between crises – mapping out our goals for the coming year. Among our priorities, is a commitment to engaging young adults in our work, not only as participants in our programs, but as stakeholders in our mission, and ultimately as future leaders of our organization. To inform our efforts, we’ve turned to our own young staff members to share their perspectives. This week’s post comes from one member of this cohort; Rachie Lewis, Senior Synagogue Organizer. She reflects on the experience and aspirations of her peer group, through the lens of this past week’s turbulent events.

Nahma Nadich
Deputy Director

As a young, white Jew who grew up in a time, place, and economic class that allowed me to feel comfortable in my own skin, the violence in Charlottesville and the resurgence of  blatant white-Supremacy and anti-Semitism – including two desecrations of the New England Holocaust Memorial in six weeks – are jarring. While we as a Jewish people have seen this before, I  have not, and neither have the majority of my peers.

Last weekend, we were all faced with hard decisions about how to respond to a rally here in Boston that many worried would mirror the hate and vitriol in Charlottesville. Some of us chose to attend the “Free Speech” rally in counter-protest – some marched with other faith and social justice communities, and some made our way there on our own. Some of us chose to attend a powerful interfaith service at Temple Israel on Friday evening, which JCRC helped organize, and some of us prayed for peace in our own synagogues on Saturday morning. And, some of us chose to stay home, concerned about wading into these troubled waters.

I chose to go to the counter-protest. Amidst the tens of thousands of protesters, I was struck by how many young Jews I knew – Jews, otherwise separated by institutional, religious, and cultural divides–who decided to show up on Saturday amidst all the confusion and uncertainty.

As we – Jewish, young adults – make these decisions, many of us are grappling with complex questions.

  • How do we understand the resurgence of anti-Semitism, which we know is a deep part of our ancestral narrative, yet has not been a lived experience for so many of us? How do we understand anti-Semitism as it relates to other prevalent forms of oppression, such as racism and xenophobia, which position communities of color differently?
  • What does it mean to be a Jew doing justice work in deep and respectful partnership with marginalized communities? How do we hold onto these relationships and this work in the face of discord?
  • How do we simultaneously recognize and affirm the diversity of the Jewish community, which is not all white, not all economically privileged, and not all descended from Eastern-Europe?
  • What can we learn from older generations? And, what new tools and approaches are needed in this era?

Amidst all these questions, as we recognize both our vulnerability and privilege, young Jews are making decisions about how and when to show up, and we’re developing tools and networks to gather on our own. We are programmed to act in the face of injustice. Engaging in social justice work is something we do out of a sense of urgency and chiyuv – obligation. If we, or people we love, are in danger of getting kicked off healthcare plans, Medicaid or disability benefits; if we, or our family and friends of color, feel more threatened because of the deepening racial rifts and racially motivated violence in our country, and; yes, if Nazi flags are once again being flown in public, we will act. Fighting for justice is a part of life for our generation, and thanks to the hard choices made by our parents and grandparents, many of us now feel safe to take the risks that this struggle asks of us.

This week, we welcomed the new month of Elul, the last month of the Jewish calendar, which encourages us to reflect on the passing year and prepare for the new one. Elul asks us to take a deep accounting of our actions: What have we done well? How have we grown? Where have we fallen short? What have we learned? How will we set ourselves up to be stronger and better versions of ourselves in the year ahead?

These questions feel especially crucial as we all make our way through the chaos. And, I hope that, in the coming year, younger Jews, older Jews, community leaders, and those on the periphery, can engage with one another in addressing the questions at the heart of these struggles, both in our country and in our Jewish community.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rachie Lewis
Senior Synagogue Organizer

Being for Ourselves – and Others | A Message from Our Deputy Director

As this week has unfolded, our professionals have been having many conversations with partners about anti-Semitism in this moment. Today’s post comes from our Deputy Director Nahma Nadich. I would also remind and urge you to join me, our partners in the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, Governor Baker and Mayor Walsh, this evening, August 18th, at 5pm at Temple Israel in Boston for a Gathering of Unity, Love and Strength.

Shabbat Shalom,

Growing up in the turbulent sixties and early seventies, I was magnetically drawn to civic and political involvement in the social issues of the day. But the message I heard in the modern Orthodox day school I attended was a foreboding one: focus only on our own Jewish community and don’t concern yourself with anyone beyond it. As a teenager, I rejected and rebelled against what I saw as a parochial view; I found multiple public outlets for my political passions.

But looking back all these decades later, I now understand more about the fear and anxiety behind that caution. Having witnessed, and in many cases, survived the Holocaust themselves, and after experiencing unimaginable evil at the hand of non-Jewish perpetrators, my teachers had little interest in advocating for, or frankly even interacting with, anyone outside of their own circle. “Look what they did to us!” they’d say. They’d argue that we owed “them” nothing, and that we should just take care of our own. And they’d cite Rabbi Hillel’s famous teaching from Pirkei Avot: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?”

But of course, my teachers were quoting just the first part of this wise dictum that has endured throughout the ages. I always drew my inspiration not from that first line, but rather from the continuation of Hillel’s teaching–the call to universalism and to urgent action. “But if I am only for myself, who am I? And if not now, when?” (Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14) Growing up as a Jew in New York, feeling safe and secure in my surroundings, I never felt vulnerable or afraid. In fact, I felt grateful that those experiences belonged to a bygone era for American Jews; that our community was not only secure in this country but with the resources to support and advocate for those who were now marginalized and oppressed.

At no point in my life have I questioned those assumptions more than I have this week. Like so many in our community, I have been shaken to the core by the images of Charlottesville–by the racist bile spewed by the angry mob, and by images of Nazi-identified white supremacists marching in the streets of this American city, chanting “Jews will not replace us” and echoing Nazi slogans like “Blood and Soil.”

And yet, as I read descriptions and analyses from some progressive sources – even Jewish ones – I’m struck by how many of them focus exclusively on the heinous manifestations of racism, and how curiously silent they are on the explosive expressions of anti-Semitism. I’ve read eloquent calls to action, urging the Jewish community to stand in solidarity with communities of color and to fight racism in all its forms. But I’ve read far fewer acknowledgements that we too are hurting, that the Holocaust survivors in our community have been retraumatized, that younger Jews are feeling unmoored by new and unfamiliar feelings of vulnerability, and that recent events have surfaced an enduring and deep-seated hatred we thought had disappeared from this country. Suddenly, the idea of our having to be “for ourselves” no longer feels like an antiquated concept.

Clearly, being for ourselves does not have to mean what my teachers told me so many years ago. We do not have to turn our back on our neighbors, or cast a blind eye to their suffering. But unless we take care of ourselves, we cannot effectively be there for others. We must acknowledge the reality of anti-Semitism in America in 2017, and understand the pernicious ways in which it fuels racism, as argued so persuasively in this article by Eric Ward. We have to resist the naïve notion that we must–or even can–choose between which evil to combat. White Supremacy, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism are all part of the same toxic ideological brew. All must be exposed and eradicated.

The wisdom of Hillel’s teaching lies in its totality, knowing that all three parts are intertwined and interdependent. Only when we honor and address our own needs, can we hope to engage in honest and authentic relationships with our brothers and sisters. Only when we acknowledge our own hurts, can we truly see the pain of others and offer healing. And only when we face the brokenness of the world which we share, can we act with the urgency that this moment demands of us.

Shabbat Shalom,

Nahma Nadich
Deputy Director

CJP/JCRC Statement on August 14 Vandalism of New England Holocaust Memorial

We are appalled and saddened that the New England Holocaust Memorial was vandalized Monday night for the second time in just 6 weeks. The images of Nazis marching in the streets of America over the weekend in Charlottesville and now shattered glass once again at this sacred space in Boston are an affront to our Jewish community and to all those who stand-up against bigotry, hatred and anti-Semitism. We thank the Boston Police and the Public Works Department for their rapid response and for their continuing support during this difficult time. We will remain resilient and will have a timeline for rebuilding the memorial once we have assessed the damage.

For information about the New England Holocaust Memorial or to make a donation, visit


The Memorial consists of six towers representing the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust; the six years from 1939-1945 during which the “final solution” took place, and; the six main death camps where the majority of Europe’s Jews – men, women, and children – were murdered. The Memorial, which was created by Holocaust survivors who made a new life in the Boston area, is open 24-7.

The New England Holocaust Memorial, located on Congress Street across from City Hall, is managed by CJP in partnership with JCRC.