Author: JCRC

The JCRC Summer Reading List

While Jeremy is in Israel on our July Study Tour, we are turning this week’s Friday message over to our staff—we asked them to create a Summer Reading List full of recommendations for books they love and use in their work. Here is a selection of JCRC staff recommendations:

Common Ground by J. Anthony Lukas—recommended by Aaron Agulnek, Director of Government Affairs

Common Ground is about the history of race relations in the City of Boston, through the lens of busing and rising tensions in the 1960s and 70s. This book focuses on three families, one Black, one Irish, and one Yankee, and how their backgrounds and history impacted their perspective on busing. The stories and characters feel contemporary, because their stories are the stories of modern Boston. We still live in the shadow of those turbulent times and continue to confront the ongoing impacts of racism and discrimination.

Catch-67 by Micah Goodman—recommended by Eli Cohn-Postell, Director of Israel Engagement:
Catch-67 was a bestseller in Israel for months following its release in 2017. It was translated to English last fall and is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the Israeli perspective on making peace with the Palestinians in the West Bank. In this pleasantly accessible book, Goodman breaks down the historic arguments of Israel’s right and left as they relate to Israel’s presence in the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War. He concludes that most Israelis believe that withdrawing from the West Bank is essential to preserving Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. However, most Israelis also believe that withdrawing from the West Bank would be the end of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Israel cannot remain in the West Bank, but it also cannot leave, and thus Catch-67. What are the next steps that can extricate Israel from this dilemma? Goodman has insightful and original proposals to answer that question.

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann—recommended by Barry Glass, Director of TELEM

Killers of the Flower Moon is a book about the murders of Osage Native People in Oklahoma at the beginning of the 1900s, to steal their land that had valuable oil fields. I read it in anticipation of my trip to the Grand/Bryce/Zion Canyon in April, a trip where I met a Navaho man at a craft market. I was surprised to learn that he had visited the New England Holocaust Memorial several years ago and said that it was his most enduring memory of his three summers as a teen in the Boston area.

The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan—recommended by Rachel Goldberg, Israel Engagement Program Manager

JCRC’s Pages for Peace book club uses literature as a tool to grapple with the challenges of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This year, from January to June, we read The Lemon Tree, which is “the true story of one house, two families, and a common history emanating from walls of Jerusalem stone on the coastal plain east of Tel Aviv and Jaffa.” Together, we wrestled with our preconceived notions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and how the fates of Israelis and Palestinians are, as Mr. Tolan put it, both separate and intertwined.

Changing the World from the Inside Out: A Jewish Approach to Personal and Social Change by Rabbi David Jaffe—recommended by Rachie Lewis, Director of Synagogue Organizing

This book, written by JCRC staff alum Rabbi David Jaffe, has provided me with the spiritual nourishment in my justice work that the time we are living in requires. We have valuable tools in our Jewish tradition, and specifically in the practices of Mussar (moral instruction), that help us remain strong, connected, and clear for the long haul. Rabbi Jaffe is a key person in showing us how to use them.

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson—recommended by Nahma Nadich, Deputy Director

Through Stevenson’s mesmerizing storytelling, he illustrates how slavery has evolved over the years through Jim Crow to its present form; the mass incarceration of black and brown people in this country. He tells of his lifelong efforts to compel justice for the poor and disenfranchised; people on death row, prisoners serving life sentences, and an astonishing number of people behind bars for no reason other than their own poverty. Miraculously, he manages to inject a note of hope, as he lays out his prescription for how we can come to terms with our shameful past and unleash new possibilities for our future as Americans.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah—recommended by Emily Reichman, Director of Service Initiatives

As we begin marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps and the end of the Holocaust, which began this month in 1944, I’ve been thinking more about the stories we are told from that time, along with the stories we don’t hear. The Nightingale is the fictionalized account of two women who participated in the French resistance movement during the war, one who smuggled downed British airmen across the Pyrenees into Spain, and the other who hid Jewish children in a local convent. The Nightingale highlights the important role women played in the French resistance that is often overlooked by history.


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore—recommended by Rebecca Shimshak, Director of the Greater Boston Coalition for Literacy (GBJCL)

We showcased these two books at our annual workshops for our literacy tutors. The Hate U Give, about a police shooting, involved a discussion on JCRC’s efforts to prevent gun violence. The Other Wes Moore documents the lives of two men raised in Baltimore named Wes Moore, one who was convicted for murder and given a life-sentence, and one grew up to be a Rhodes scholar—we discussed education equity and literacy advocacy in Massachusetts with organizers from Stand for Children. Both books speak to the disparity in educational and social experiences of many of the tutees, so they resonated with many of our tutors.

Do you have any books that are must-reads? Please share them with us!

Shabbat shalom,

Your friends at JCRC

JCRC Leads MA Labor Leaders on Study Tour of Israel

July 8, 2019

(BOSTON) – The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston continues its long history of conducting annual study tours of Israel with Massachusetts community leaders through this month’s study tour, which will provide Massachusetts labor leaders with an in-depth look into the economic, political, and security challenges and successes facing Israeli society.

From July 7-16, Massachusetts labor leaders will travel throughout Israel, learning from government officials and religious, academic, media, labor, and business leaders. They will be joined by leaders from the Jewish Labor Committee, a JCRC member organization.

“This trip will allow Massachusetts leaders to deepen their understanding of Israel's politics and culture, and examine some of the economic ties that bring Israel and Massachusetts together,” said Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of JCRC of Greater Boston. “The best way to deepen the MA/Israel connection is through a mutual understanding of our common interests—participants will gain firsthand knowledge about how they can strengthen relationships with their Israeli counterparts."

The Massachusetts labor leaders will:

  • Meet with government officials, labor leaders, and other influential leaders from all sectors of Israeli and Palestinian society, developing city-to-city connections and sharing best practices in addressing current labor issues,
  • Visit Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and border regions,
  • Discover the growing economic and cultural ties between Israel and Massachusetts,
  • Gain new perspectives on modern day Israel, and
  • Develop a nuanced understanding of the complex political and security challenges facing Israel.

The trip is paid for by a grant from the nonprofit Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. Participants pay a registration fee for the trip from their own funds.

The following are the participants in JCRC’s 2019 Labor Study Tour of Israel:

Ellen Smith, Regional Director, Mass Nurses Association Hugh Cameron, Secretary-Treasurer, International Union of Police Associations AFL-CIO
Grady Eason, Business Representative/Organizer, New England Regional Council of Carpenters Karen Courtney, Executive Director, Foundation for Fair Contracting of Massachusetts
FayeRuth Fisher, Political Director, Massachusetts, 1199SEIU Massachusetts  Martin Sanchez, Business Representative/Organizer, New England Regional Council of Carpenters
Wayne Murphy, Director of Government Affairs, IUPAT District Council 35 Thomas Flynn, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, New England Regional Council of Carpenters
Kenell Broomstein, Business Agent, IBEW Local 103
Lay Leaders:
Ari Fertig, Executive Director, New England Jewish Labor Committee
David Borrus, Business Manager, New England Regional Council of Carpenters Barbara Penzner, Rabbi, Temple Hillel B’nai Torah

About the Jewish Community Relations Council

JCRC defines and advances the values, interests, and priorities of the organized Jewish community of Greater Boston in the public square. Visit us at

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Representation matters

This week's Friday message is from Aaron Agulnek, JCRC Director of Government Affairs

Seventy-five years ago this month, JCRC was founded by a group of Jews demanding a seat at the table in civil society. They were living through the worst of times for the worldwide Jewish community, where inaction led to destruction and death at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators. With no unified voice to compel collective action, and with limited representation in government, all the pressure fell on a few prominent Jews.

President Franklin Roosevelt’s Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr, his only Jewish Cabinet member, was an easy target for anti-Semites. Morgenthau shied away from any perception that he favored Jewish causes for fear of embarrassing the President and providing more fodder for the scurrilous claim of dual loyalties levied against Jews. However, by January 1944, Morgenthau and his colleagues at Treasury could no longer remain silent. They prepared a report with an initial title: “The Acquiescence of this Government in the Murder of the Jews,” which led FDR to issue Executive Order 0417 and establish the War Refugee Board.

Though still novel in the 1940s, Jewish representation in the upper reaches of Government was not unprecedented. Only 25 years earlier, Justice Louis Brandeis was nominated to the Supreme Court. He was met with virulent antisemitism from fellow Justice James McReynolds. According to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “McReynolds was an out-and-out anti-Semite, and he treated this brilliant man with utter disdain. When Brandeis would speak at conference, he would stand up and leave the room… Brandeis ignored it. 'Dignity' is the right word to describe his response to that bigotry."

Rather than shy away from his background and values, Brandeis led with them, proving to the nation that being Jewish and American were not incongruous. He inspired a young, mostly-immigrant American Jewish community, seeking a future in a country in which it was still finding its collective footing. Brandeis’ legacy to the Jewish community goes much deeper than his judicial chops and world-altering decisions. He cemented a sense of belonging to a wandering people.

Today, there are Jews serving at all levels in government, proudly representing their constituents. Where necessary, many have directly asserted their Jewishness in public spaces. There was no clearer example than the public debate following the attacks on synagogues in Pittsburgh, San Diego, and Chabad centers here in Massachusetts.

JCRC led and championed an advocacy campaign enlisting rabbis, synagogues, day schools, and other communal institutions for the expansion of a grant program to provide security enhancements to houses of worship, community centers and other vulnerable institutions across the Commonwealth. In late May, the Massachusetts State Senate debated an amendment to the State budget to increase its funding.

When the amendment was called, lead sponsor Senator Eric Lesser (Longmeadow) like any effective senator, framed his remarks in the context of public safety and the proper role of government. He spoke about the rise in antisemitism, attacks against mosques, the targeting of LQBTQ community, and the burning of a black church in Springfield the night of President Obama’s election in 2008. But when Lesser began sharing his experience as a Jew, a deep silence fell over the Senate chamber. He expressed the deep sadness and despair he felt when he learned of the murders at the Tree of Life synagogue, just as he and his young family were at Shabbat services.

Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem (Newton) described how her temple has balanced security with inclusiveness; Senator Cindy Friedman (Arlington) spoke about the recent incidents at Chabad in Arlington; Senator Barry Finegold (Andover) shared a story about the security conversations he had with his rabbi for his daughter’s bat mitzvah; Senator Becca Rausch (Needham) spoke of her children and her concern for their safety at a Jewish day care; Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler (Worcester) spoke about the impact that violence is having on our communities; all under the watchful eye of our Jewish Senate President, Karen Spilka (Ashland).

Seven Jewish senators, from every corner of the Commonwealth, each sharing their vulnerability and trauma; each speaking from their own lived experience to advocate powerfully for their – our – community, sharing their pain and bringing their petition directly to the floor of the Senate for redress. Representation matters.

But for many in our society, representation is still a distant dream. There are currently zero African-American and zero Muslim senators in the State Senate. There is a single Latina senator and two LGBTQ senators. Representation is not just about numbers, but also about the power of personal testimony, in compelling justice for marginalized communities. Only when we represent our own interests in the halls of power can we effectively protect and defend our community’s interests. We need to demand no less for other minorities. Shirley Chisholm said it best, “if they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” When debate ended and the roll call was taken on Senator Lesser’s amendment (which passed 40-0), the impact of the debate had a lingering resonance in the chamber. Twenty minutes later, when offering up his amendment to codify the Hate Crimes Task Force, Minority Leader Bruce Tarr opened with these remarks:

…I have been a member of this body a fairly long time and I have never been prouder …. What makes this so extraordinary are the types of remarks we heard around the chamber where members were willing to come into this chamber and share their thoughts about fear and anxiety and concern for themselves, and for all of us. That takes character, it takes commitment and it takes dedication. What just happened in this chamber is so extraordinary in some ways because … hate lives in darkness. It thrives on concealment. And it preys on fear. Do you know what happened here? People brought the reality of the threat we are faced with right into the daylight and said here is it and we are going to stand up to it.”

With the inspiration of Brandeis and Morgenthau at our back, the Jewish community is better represented today than it has ever been in history of the United States. May their memory inspire us to stand up for ourselves and others, and may it grant us the wisdom to make space for the yearnings of other peoples in their dreams.


Shabbat Shalom,

Aaron Agulnek

Building a Shared Future in Israel

Givat Haviva International School in brings together Arab and Jewish students.

This week, we had the pleasure of hosting Mohammad Darawshe, Director of the Center for Equality and Shared Society of the Givat Haviva institute (a Boston Partners for Peace organization), here in Boston.

Mohammad’s story is not a particularly unusual one amongst Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, but the actions that come from his story need to become far more common. His family has lived in his village in the Galilee for 28 generations. He is an acute observer of the Palestinian Israeli experience. He usually begins his talk by describing the challenges that Arab citizens face in integrating into Israeli society. One key factor is the relationship between the Israeli government and its citizens; in this case the relationship between Israel as a Jewish state and its 20% non-Jewish minority. Mohammad’s contention is that Israel’s self-definition as a state for Jews – codified in last summer’s nation-state law – rather than a state of all its citizens, results in discrimination against him and his community.

The other piece of the puzzle has to do with relations between Israel’s Jewish and non-Jewish citizens. This is where Givat Haviva is laser-focused, running a variety of programs that aim to create equality and a shared future for Israeli Jews and Palestinians. We visit there regularly with our JCRC Israel Study Tours.

In one session this week, Mohammad was asked how social progress can really be made given the political obstacles to peace. He answered that while there is a certain aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that he will never be able to control, he is convinced that his work at Givat Haviva constitutes 90% of the solution.

This got us thinking: what if we spent more of our time learning about and emphasizing solutions, rather than fixating on problems beyond our control?

Mohammad tells us about a program that places Jewish teachers in Arab schools and vice versa. This program is designed to reduce racism among Israeli youth, and the results have been dramatic. Israeli researchers have found that roughly 60% of Jewish and Arab youth in Israel hold at least some racist tendencies toward the other. After only two years with a teacher from a different background, that rate drops to 10%. This program is currently running in about 1,200 of Israel’s 7,000 schools. This is what Mohammad would call an “island of success,” undeniable progress, but with much more work to be done.

“There is a pill against racism and that pill is the presence of ‘the Other’ in your life,” Mohammad tells us.

Givat Haviva is breaking down the separations that prevent productive conversations from taking place. Their team is working on creating better relationships between Jews and Palestinians as citizens of one country, while also working on achieving full equality for Palestinians at the same time.

Simply put, Mohammad is working for an Israel that fulfills the promise and aspiration of its own declaration of statehood, to be a “country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions.”

Thinking about solutions 90% of the time is hard, but if we never hear about solutions, then we are only left with the seemingly insurmountable challenges.  And if, by focusing on a solutions-oriented approach toward solving the 90% of challenges, groups like Givat Haviva create the conditions on the ground that expand the possibility to address the other 10% (the political challenges), all the better.

At JCRC, and through Boston Partners for Peace, we are committed to changing the current dynamic by emphasizing grassroots peacebuilding work. There are aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that we cannot solve, nor is it our place to solve them. Instead, we make the choice to turn to and be inspired by Mohammad and the thousands like him working every day for a better future for Israelis and Palestinians.

We hope that you will join us in this work.

Shabbat Shalom,

Eli & Jeremy

Eli Cohn-Postell

Eli Cohn-Postell
Director of Israel Engagement

Jeremy Burton

Jeremy Burton
Executive Director

JCRC Applauds MA Senate for Unanimous Support of Non Profit Security Grant Funding

May 24, 2019
Contact: Shira Burns
(617) 457-8673

JCRC Applauds MA Senate for Unanimous Support
Non Profit Security Grant Funding

(Boston, MA) -  The Jewish Community Relations Council applauds the Massachusetts State Senate, including lead sponsor Senator Eric Lesser (Longmeadow), Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem (Newton), Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler (Worcester), and the Senate President Karen Spilka (Ashland) for unanimously supporting the amendment to increase the state Non Profit Security Grant program from $150,000 to $500,000 for the upcoming fiscal year. This funding will cover 10 grants across the Commonwealth for vital security enhancements and protocols at houses of worship, community centers, and other institutions at heightened risk of violence.

Earlier this month, JCRC organized a letter, signed by close to 150 Jewish institutional leaders from across the Commonwealth, to Governor Baker and state leaders asking for increased funding for this vital initiative.

“The Massachusetts State Senate sent a strong message that we believe every resident of Massachusetts should feel safe in their communities, and never feel targeted because of who they are. I’m proud of the Senators who advocated so eloquently and movingly for this amendment on the Senate floor, and I’m grateful to the entire Senate for passing this important measure unanimously,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka.

“Anti-Semitism, islamophobia, bigotry and violence have no place in our society. We must continue to fight for and defend our freedom to worship and live openly and free. It pains me that our world still suffers from xenophobic acts of violence and hatred. But I am proud that the Senate stood up in unanimous support for security grants for nonprofits, because nobody should ever fear for their safety,” said Senate President Emerita Harriette L. Chandler.

"Unfortunately, we have seen a troubling rise in hate crimes across Massachusetts. These incidents are meant to intimidate some people in our communities, and they tear at the fabric of who we are as a country based on the equal right of everyone to participate in our democracy. With these security grants for synagogues, mosques, community centers and other organizations, we have made clear that hate has no place in our Commonwealth," said Sen. Eric Lesser, who sponsored the amendment.

“In Massachusetts and across the nation, those who spew hate and violence and anti-Semitic views seem emboldened, and acts of violence are becoming all too common,” said Senator Creem. “We must continue working to change this tragic reality, and we should never accept it as the norm. However, the funding in this amendment also recognizes the need to ensure that we may worship and exercise our rights and freedoms in safety.”

"We congratulate our partners in the State Senate for unequivocally endorsing the right for all people to gather in safety," said Aaron Agulnek, director of government affairs for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. "Houses of worship, community centers, and other institutions must be safe, secure and open. This funding is a strong step towards that goal, but we must do more to challenge the motivation for all forms of hatred. Education and respect, not fortification, is our ultimate hope."

The Senate also unanimously adopted Minority Leader Bruce Tarr’s amendment to codify the Governor’s Hate Crimes Task Force into law. JCRC partnered with Governor Charlie Baker, the Anti-Defamation League, CJP, and Jewish federations and agencies across the state in 2017 to reestablish this vital task force after it remained dormant for several years.

About the Jewish Community Relations Council
JCRC defines and advances the values, interests, and priorities of the organized Jewish community of Greater Boston in the public square. Visit us at

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Letter Urges State support of Non Profit Security Grants

JCRC works with our public officials to create partnerships for safety and security enhancements at vulnerable non-profit institutions. With the alarming rise in threats and violence against the Jewish community, it’s clear that more is needed. JCRC launched a community wide campaign to fully fund a grant program to help synagogues, day schools, community centers, and other targeted institutions to make vital security enhancements. We stand with our partners of every faith and creed to denounce hatred and demand justice.

JCRC organized a letter, signed by 143 Jewish institutional leaders from across the Commonwealth, to Governor Baker asking for full funding of the state Non-Profit Security Grant program.

Click here for the PDF of the Letter

Below is the text of the letter:

May 20, 2019

Dear Governor Baker:

While celebrating the end of Passover, the celebration of the Jewish people’s liberation, we were confronted yet again with the horror of another murderous attack on a Jewish synagogue in Poway, California, six months to the day of the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. The sanctity of our houses of worship has been pierced by the horror of antisemitism and our sense of security is in peril.

While we are grateful to our partners in government for denouncing violence, hatred, and antisemitism and offering comfort and offering healing in our time of need, our communities require more. Across the country, threats and acts of violence have escalated against synagogues, black churches, mosques, cultural centers and other religious institutions. Seemingly every week, we join with clergy and leaders from every walk of life, decrying the bloodshed and pleading for sanity, and a restoration to calm. But antisemitism is on the rise, even here. A recent ADL audit found that “people across Massachusetts continue to experience antisemitism at historically high rates" as we record the fourth highest number of incidents (following California, New York and New Jersey), highlighting the awareness that this tide of hatred toward Jews isn’t dissipating anytime soon.

Several states reacted swiftly, by partnering with at-risk institutions to develop security enhancements and protocols, including: The State of New York offered $10 million in grants to vulnerable non-public schools and cultural centers, including religious-based institutions; New Jersey released $11.3 million in funds; Maryland released $5 million; and recently the Governor of California announced $15 million in grants.  Massachusetts, however only has a pilot program of $150,000, with no funds yet allocated for the next year. We need to do better.

We respectfully ask our leadership in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to step-up and fulfill its basic obligation by fully funding the non-profit security grant program to provide these critical resources to ensure that our communities and our congregations are safe and secure. As faith communities meet our responsibility to welcome and embrace all who enter our doors, we need our government to realize its responsibility to offer the protection to make “freedom of religion” a reality in the Commonwealth. Massachusetts basks in its well-deserved reputation as a shining beacon, a model across the nation of freedom, equality and justice.  In this moment of crisis for our community, we are called once again to lead and not follow.


Jeremy Burton, Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council, Boston

Rabbi Marc Baker, President & CEO, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Boston

Dara Kaufman, Executive Director, Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, Pittsfield

Judy Usow, President & Board Chair, Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, Pittsfield

Steven Schimmel, Executive Director, Jewish Federation of Central MA, Worcester

Amir Cohen, Executive Director, Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford, New Bedford

Laurie Tishler Mindlin, Executive Director, Merrimack Valley Jewish Federation, Andover

Stewart Bromberg, CEO, Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, Springfield

Joshua Vogel, Communications Director, Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts, Springfield

Mark Sokoll, President & CEO, Jewish Community Center of Greater Boston, Newton

Kait Rogers, Chief Finance and Admin. Officer, Jewish Community Center of Greater Boston, Newton

Marty Schneer, Executive Director, Jewish Community Center of the North Shore, Marblehead

Michael Paysnick, Executive Director, Springfield Jewish Community Center, Springfield

Rabbi Alison Adler, Temple B’nai Abraham, Beverly

Rabbi Allison Berry, Temple Shalom, Newton

Rabbi Laura Abrasley, Temple Shalom, Newton

Rabbi Eric Gurvis, Temple Shalom, Newton

Rabbi Shoshana Friedman, Temple Sinai, Brookline

Rabbi Andrew Vogel, Temple Sinai, Brookline

Nora Abrahamer, President, Temple Sinai,

Rabbi Audrey Marcus Berkman, Temple Ohabei Shalom, Brookline

Shari Churwin, Education Director, Temple Ohabei Shalom, Brookline

Rabbi Barbara Penzner, Temple Hillel B’nai Torah, West Roxbury

Rabbi Benjamin Samuels, Congregation Shaarei Tefillah, Newton

Rabbi Ronne Friedman, Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Israel, Boston

Rabbi Elaine Zecher, Senior Rabbi, Temple Israel, Boston

Rabbi Bernard H. Mehlman, Senior Scholar, Temple Israel, Boston

Rabbi Matthew Soffer, Senior Associate Rabbi, Temple Israel Boston

Rabbi Jenn Gubitz, Temple Israel, Boston

Rabbi Suzie Jacobson, Temple Israel, Boston

Cantor Roy Einhorn, Temple Israel, Boston

Dan Deutsch, Executive Director, Temple Israel, Boston

Gary Pforzheimer, President, Temple Israel, Boston

Marc Maxwell, Vice President, Temple Israel, Boston

Alane Shanks, Treasurer, Temple Israel, Boston

Rabbi Cari Bricklin- Small, Temple Shir Tikvah, Winchester

Rabbi Danny Burkeman, Temple Shir Tikva, Wayland

Rabbi Jordana Schuster Battis, Temple Shir Tikva, Wayland

Scott A. Cohen, President, Temple Shir Tikva, Wayland

Susan Altman, Executive Director, Temple Shir Tikva, Wayland

Rabbi Daniel Liben, Temple Israel of Natick, Natick

Rabbi Darby J. Leigh, Kerem Shalom, Concord

Rabbi David J. Meyer, Temple Emanu-El, Marblehead

Rabbi David Lerner, Temple Emunah, Lexington

Shelley Rossman, Director, Pre-School of Temple Emunah, Lexington

Rabbi David Weiner, Knesset Israel, Pittsfield

Rabbi Eliana Jacobowitz, Temple B’nai Brith, Somerville

Rabbi Emily Mathis, Director of Community Development, Tremont Street Shul, Cambridge

Brian Eisenstein, President, Tremont Street Shul, Cambridge

Rabbi Howard A. Cohen, Congregation Shiray Hayam, Swampscott

Rabbi Howard Jaffe, Senior Rabbi, Temple Isaiah of Lexington, Lexington

Barry Tuber, President, Temple Isaiah of Lexington, Lexington

Steven Jaworski, Facilities Manager, Temple Isaiah of Lexington, Lexington

Rabbi Jay Pearlman, Temple Beth Shalom, Needham

Rabbi Todd A. Markley, Temple Beth Shalom, Needham

Rabbi Joseph B. Meszler, Temple Sinai, Sharon

Rabbi Joshua Breindel, Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley, Sudbury

Rabbi Keith Stern, Temple Beth Avodah, Newton

Elyse Hyman, Executive Director, Temple Beth Avodah, Newton

Rabbi Kenneth Carr, Temple Chayai Shalom, Easton

Rabbi Liz P.G. Hirsch, Temple Anshe Amunim, Pittsfield

Rabbi Louis Polisson, Congregation Or Atid, Wayland

Laura Blumberg, President, Congregation Or Atid, Wayland

Rabbi Mayshe Schwartz, Director, The Chai Center and YJP, Brookline

Rabbi Mendy Kivman, Chabad of Greater Milford, Milford

Rabbi Micah Citrin, Temple Beth David, Westwood

Rabbi Ron Fish, Senior Rabbi, Temple Israel, Sharon

Rabbi Rachel Silverman, Temple Israel, Sharon

Joshua Blumenthal, Executive Director, Temple Israel, Sharon

Marion Gribetz, President, Temple Israel, Sharon

Rabbi Mordechai Rackover, Principal, Temple Israel of Sharon Religious School, Sharon

Rabbi Moshe Bleich, Director, Wellesley-Weston Chabad, Wellesley

Rabbi Nechemia Schusterman, Chabad of Peabody, Peabody

Rabbi Raphael Kanter, Tifereth Israel Congregation, New Bedford

Rabbi Richard E. Perlman, Senior Rabbi, Temple Ner Tamid, Peabody

Rabbi Sharon L. Sobel Temple Beth Am, Framingham

Rabbi Susan Abramson, Temple Shalom Emeth, Burlington

Rabbi Thomas M. Alpert, Temple Etz Chaim, Franklin

Richard Shulman, President, Temple Etz Chaim, Franklin

Rabbi Toba Spitzer, Congregation Dorshei Tzedek, West Newton, President of the MA Board of Rabbis

Rabbi Victor Reinstein, Nehar Shalom Community Synagogue, Jamaica Plain

Rabbi William Hamilton, Congregation Kehillath Israel, Brookline

David E. Williams, President, Congregation Kehillath Israel, Brookline

Jonathan E. Slutzman, Vice President, Congregation Kehillath Israel, Brookline

Paula Silver, Director of Administration, Congregation Kehillath Israel, Brookline

Rabbi Yehoshua Zehavi, Congregation Agudat Achim, Leominster

Scott Zibel, President, Congregation Agudat Achim, Leominster

David Susman, Security Committee Chair, Congregation Agudat Achim, Leominster

Rabbi Yisroel Freeman, Chabad Center of Sudbury, Sudbury

Randy O’Brien, President Temple Kol Tikvah, Sharon

Randy Kafka, Temple Kol Tikvah Sharon

Sanford Keliher, Vice President, Temple B’nai Abraham, Beverly

Bernard Der, Security Committee Chair, Temple B’nai Abraham, Beverly

Sara Smolover, President Temple Beth Zion

Sarah Baron-Kelly, Administrator, Temple Beth Emunah, Easton

Cantor Vera Broekhuysen, Spiritual Leader, Temple Emanu-El, Haverhill

David Belsky, Safety & Security Chair, Temple Emanu-El, Haverhill

Scott Hannula, Assistant Secretary, Temple Emanu-El, Haverhill

Stephen Ashkinos, Executive Director, Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley

Bob Schecter, President of the Board of Trustees, Temple Beth Elohim, Wellesley

Stephen Winer, Executive Director, Congregation B’nai Shalom, Westborough

Zach Dunn, Executive Director, Congregation Mishkan Tefilah, Brookline

Lynda Gordon, Tri President, Congregation Mishkan Tefilah, Brookline

Caryl Goodman, Tri-President, Congregation Mishkan Tefilah, Brookline

Steven Kaitz, Tri-President, Congregation Mishkan Tefilah, Brookline

Susan Schreiner Weingarten, Chairperson, The Boston Synagogue, Boston

Cynthia Levitt, Executive Director, Temple Emeth, Chestnut Hill

Michael Clayton, President, Temple Emeth, Chestnut Hill

David Jacobson, President, Adams Street Synagogue, Newton

David Leers, President, Temple Beth Elohim, Acton

Ellen Rappaport Tanowitz, President, Temple Reyim, Newton

Jeff Lurie, Executive Director, Temple Emanuel, Newton

Liz Goldstein, Executive Vice President, Temple Emanuel, Newton

Joanna Myers, President, Congregation Shalom, North Chelmsford

Kenneth Lifton, Security Chair, Temple Shalom Emeth, Burlington

Kenneth Milgran, Director of Security, Young Israel Congregation, Sharon

Marilyn Okonow, President, The Vilna Shul, Boston

Mark Fydenberg, President, Temple Beth Israel, Waltham

Marilyn Racette, Security Committee Chair, Temple Beth Israel, Waltham

Maureen Chapman, Executive Director, Temple Emanuel of Andover, Andover

Nancy J. LaFleur, Executive Director, Temple Emanu-El, Haverhill

Paul Cooperstein, President, Congregation Beth Shalom of the Blue Hills, Milton

Rabbi Binyomin Mermelstein, Executive Director, Torah Academy, Brookline

Rabbi Uri Feldman, Dean, Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael Highschool for Boys, Chestnut Hill

Julie Galler, Executive Director, Striar Hebrew Academy, Sharon

Susan Tanchel, Head of School, JCDS Boston’s Jewish Community Day School, Watertown

Elizabeth Waksman, Board President, JCDS Boston’s Jewish Community Day School, Watertown

Amy Gold, Head of School, Epstein Hillel School, Marblehead

Lisa Scott, Assistant Director, Gan Elohim Preschool, Wellesley

Dr. Jerrold I. Katz, Interim Head of School, Gann Academy, Waltham

Gail Schulman, COO, Gann Academy, Waltham

Ellen Chajes, Executive Director, Bais Yaakov School, Boston

Rabbi Neal Gold, Jewish Chaplain, Babson College, Boston

Ethan Sobel, Assistant Director, Boston University Hillel, Boston

Jonah Steinberg, Executive Director, Harvard Hillel, Cambridge

Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, President, Hebrew College, Newton

Amy Schechtman, President & CEO, 2Life Communities, Brighton

Ed Pletman, Director of Finance, Camp Ramah New England, Norwood

Jonathan Cohen, President, Eli and Bessie Cohen Camps, Wellesley

Arlene Remz, Executive Director, Gateways: Access to Jewish Education, Newton

Louis J. Woolf, President & CEO, Hebrew SeniorLife, Boston

Samuel I. Mendales, Executive Director, Hillel Council of New England, Newton Centre

Lital Carmel, Regional Director, Israeli-American Council, Newton

Kimberlee Schumacher, President & CEO, Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Boston, Newton

Carl Zack, Interim CEO, Jewish Family & Children Services, Waltham

Jamie Grossman, Board President, Jewish Family & Children Services, Waltham

Dale Okonow, Board Member, Jewish Family & Children Services, Waltham

Jerry Rubin, President & CEO, Jewish Vocational Services, Boston

Marc Jacobs, CEO, Jewish Family Services Metrowest, Framingham

Lino Covarrubias, COO, Jewish Family Services Metrowest, Framingham

Idit Klein, President & CEO, Keshet, Boston

Carrie Bornstein, Executive Director, Mayyim Hayyim Mikvah, Auburndale

Dan Trajman, President & CEO, New England Israel Business Council Inc., Newton

Rabbi David Jaffe, The Kirva Institute, Sharon


Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito
Senate President Karen Spilka
Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo
Secretary Michael J. Heffernan, Executive Office of Administration & Finance
Secretary Daniel Bennett, Executive Office of Public Safety & Security
Senator Michael Rodrigues, Chair, Senate Committee on Ways and Means
Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Chair, House Committee on Ways and Means

CJP and JCRC Express Concern over Incidents at Local Chabads

CJP and JCRC are deeply troubled by three incidents of attempted arson at two Chabad houses this week – one in Arlington and another in Needham. The suspects in both cases remain at large, and police are seeking assistance from the public in identifying one man seen on the Chabad Center for Jewish Life of Arlington/Belmont property – also the residence of the rabbi and his family – just after the first fire was set on Saturday night.

We have been in close contact with the rabbis at both the Arlington Chabad house and the Chabad Jewish Center in Needham, as well as local law enforcement, who have been extremely responsive and supportive. Additional patrols have been provided for the safety of the residents and congregants and state and federal officials are leading the investigation into the suspicious fires at both facilities.

CJP and JCRC appreciate the response from neighbors and local officials, who have stood with and rallied behind the Jewish communities in both towns as soon as they learned of the incidents.

Along with our partners at the ADL, we have been reaching out to Chabad houses across Greater Boston in recent days to discuss the incidents and to work together to boost security at facilities while ensuring a welcoming space to gather and worship.

Through the JEMS (Jewish Emergency Management System) program, supported by CJP, JCRC, the ADL, and the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts, Jewish institutions can learn about security best practices, attend in-person security trainings, and stay informed of incidents. To learn more about the program and future training sessions, visit the page.

JCRC, in particular, continues to work with partners across faith communities and across the government to combat the rise in violence and threats against the Jewish community. JCRC and its allies call upon the state government to fully fund the nonprofit security grant program and to partner with at-risk communal institutions so that they have the resources to undertake necessary security enhancements.

Arlington’s Human Rights Commission will host a solidarity gathering supporting the Chabad house on Monday night at 6 p.m. at Arlington Town Hall. More information can be found here.

As antisemitism continues to plague our region – and our world – we remain committed to raising awareness, educating people about the dangers of antisemitism, hatred, and bigotry, and proactively working with partners to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our Jewish community.

Who Will Tell Our Story? Holocaust Commemoration to Focus on Transmission of Memory in the Face of Rising Antisemitism

April 29, 2019
Contact: Shira Burns
(617) 457-8673

Who Will Tell Our Story? Holocaust Commemoration to Focus on Transmission of Memory in the Face of Rising Antisemitism

(Boston, MA) - The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) and its partners will present Who Will Tell Our Story?, a community commemoration of Yom HaShoah, on Sunday, May 5th, at 2:00pm, at Faneuil Hall in Boston. This annual commemoration convenes the Greater Boston community to honor survivors and pay tribute to those who perished. This year's commemoration will center on the transmission of memory from survivors to generations to come and will feature testimony from Holocaust survivor and Sharon resident Janet Singer Applefield, as well as remarks from her daughter, Deb Milley. Janet shares her story as a child survivor of the Holocaust to thousands of people each year, helping to raise awareness and understanding of the dangers of prejudice. Her testimony encourages children and adults to stand up to any kind of discrimination and injustice. Now more than ever, our community must stand united against antisemitism, bigotry, and hatred in all its forms.

Click here to read The Boston Globe’s coverage of last year’s commemoration.

“As part of a sacred duty, we come together to remember and pay homage to the Six Million Jews who lost their lives in history’s darkest moment,” said Rick Mann, JCRC Holocaust Commemoration Committee Chair. “This year we reflect on the challenges we face as a community to ensure the fulfillment of this obligation in the years to come…While we all have a role to play, it is the progeny of the survivors who will be at the forefront in carrying the message from generation to generation.”

The event will also feature recognition of the winners of JCRC’s annual Israel Arbeiter Holocaust Essay Contest for grades 6-12. The winning essay, “I Stood Up,” details a 12th grader’s encounter with a swastika at her high school and how she took action. The musical portion of the program will be provided by Temple Israel Sharon’s Shir Rhythm A cappella choir.

Who Will Tell Our Story? is presented in partnership with the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants of Greater Boston, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Boston 3G, United Way, Facing History and Ourselves, and Jewish Family & Children’s Services.

For information, registration or to support the event, visit

Speaker Bios

Janet Singer Applefield, Survivor Testimony
Janet shares her story as a child survivor of the Holocaust to thousands of people each year, helping to raise awareness and understanding of the dangers of prejudice. Her testimony encourages children and adults to stand up to any kind of discrimination and injustice.

Deb Milley, Second Generation Survivor
Janet's daughter, Deb, will share her perspective on what it means to be a critical link to the next generation of descendants—the wonderful blessings and the heavy burdens that accompany this important legacy.

About Jewish Community Relations Council
JCRC defines and advances the values, interests, and priorities of the organized Jewish community in greater Boston in the public square. Visit us at

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CJP, JCRC Statement on Synagogue Shooting in Poway

CJP and JCRC were shocked and heartbroken at the news of another synagogue shooting at a Chabad center near San Diego yesterday.

The shooting, which happened during services marking the end of Passover, occurred six months to the day of the Tree of Life attack in Pittsburgh. It was also the first opportunity for a yizkor (memorial) service for the 11 Tree of Life victims.

Today, we mourn the life of Lori Kaye (z”l), a loving wife and mother, killed while she worshipped. Lori is described by friends as a “jewel of the community,” and an Eshet Chayil, a woman of valor. According to eyewitnesses, her last act demonstrated her courage – shielding the rabbi from the shooter as she was fatally wounded. Three other victims, including an 8-year-old girl, are recovering from gunshots.

This was yet another crime fueled by hatred. The suspected shooter had posted anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim messages on social media, and reportedly had a manifesto citing the attacks in both Pittsburgh and Christchurch as inspirations last month.  He also said he tried to burn down a mosque in March and self-identified as a white supremacist.

During these anxious times, we are grateful for our close partnership with local law enforcement to ensure that all houses of worship have the support they need to make the appropriate and necessary choices balancing safety and security while continuing to be a welcoming community.

We have been in contact with our partners in San Diego, including Chabad and the Jewish Federation of San Diego County to help meet the needs of those impacted by this devastating act. More information about how you can help with recovery efforts will be available in the coming days.

We join with people around the world in praying for the recovery of the victims and mourn with the friends and family of Lori Kaye. May her memory be a blessing.