Category Archives: Government Affairs

Jewish Community at Forefront of Inclusion Advocacy

With February being Jewish Disability Awareness Month (JDAM), we are reminded that the Jewish community continues to be at the forefront of promoting the righteous obligation for inclusion, whether through the high quality of services and programs run by our agencies, the families and people with disabilities who are thriving or the countless volunteers who pitch in their time and resources to create a more open and accessible community.

Yet, for many families and people with disabilities, societal attitudes and limited public resources have created additional obstacles and saddled too many people with financial and emotional barriers where instead opportunity should abound.

JDAM presents us an opportunity to highlight the talents, personalities and sometimes untapped potential of people with disabilities and provides a platform to shine a light on laws and regulations that need to be updated, services that need to be expanded and expectations that need to be readjusted.

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) works to bring our community’s values, perspectives and expertise to the public square to effect change and promote dialogue. Over the past several years, our Government Affairs team, including our newly formed Disability Advocacy Committee, has played a key role with our state leaders and federal delegation, testifying on behalf of bills, advocating for familial supports and innovative program and working in collaboration with other leading voices.

This year also marks the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and for the young adults of the ADA generation, it has never been a question about their own abilities, but rather the overcoming the expectations and obstacles that others have set.

We urge you to use the opportunity of Jewish Disability Awareness Month to call your elected officials, neighbors, friends, and colleagues and urge them to support efforts to make a more inclusive community and workplace. If you have a disability, speak up and let the world know that you are an important part of the workforce and that you will not be defined nor limited by anyone else’s expectations.

On Thursday, February 26th, JCRC and Massachusetts Association of Jewish Federations will honor the visionary leadership of Paul Bernon and the Ruderman Family Foundation for supporting JCRC's disability policy agenda and to Senator Dan Wolf, Representative Joe Wagner and Rita Noonan from Senate President Stanley Rosenberg's office our 18th Annual Legislative Reception at The Massachusetts State House.

If you are interested in attending or supporting this event, go to http://bit.ly/1L93MOb.

Thank you, Governor Patrick

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As the Commonwealth of Massachusetts prepares for new leadership on Beacon Hill, it is also a time for reflection and appreciation. When Governor Deval Patrick takes his lone walk down the steps of the State House on January 7th, he will be remembered as a great friend and supporter of the Greater Boston Jewish community.

The Governor clearly laid out his principles when he first ran for office: generational responsibility, social justice, and investments in our individual and communal futures. He made it clear that “we do not have to agree on everything to work on anything.” That vision and perspective laid the framework for eight years of successful collaboration between his administration and the Jewish community.

The priorities of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) and Governor Patrick often complemented each other in the public square. We stood with the Governor as he personally rallied support to defeat efforts finally to put marriage equality on the ballot, thereby enshrining the principle that civil rights would not be put up to a popular vote and that marriage is a right belonging to all of us. We were equally proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Governor Patrick and other leaders in the faith community to offer temporary sanctuary for migrant children entering the United States without family.

We worked together to expand coverage and reign in the costs of health care in the Commonwealth; to increase the minimum wage; to increase funding for youth jobs; and to create and pass stronger gun violence prevention legislation.

It was also a tremendous source of pride for our community when the Governor made two trips to Israel to build upon the many strong connections between the business and academic communities of Israel and Massachusetts. Due to his leadership, MassChallenge and MassChallenge Israel are working to develop deeper economic ties between the growing healthcare, biotechnology and tech sectors in Israel and Massachusetts, and starting this year, we will finally have direct flights to Israel from Boston.

Governor Patrick exhibited superb governance during times of crisis and there is no better example than his steadfast leadership in the face of the Boston Marathon attack. His steady hand and his compassion guided the City and the Commonwealth. His remarks at the interfaith gathering with President Obama – when the Governor called us all to unite in our shared civic faith – provided the unifying and healing moment we all needed

We share Governor Patrick’s commitment to family, community and social justice. For that, and for all you have achieved, we say thank you for your service so far to the Commonwealth.

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Jeremy Burton
Executive Director, JCRC

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Jill Goldenberg

President, JCRC

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.

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.