“The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston congratulates our long-time friend, US Representative Katherine Clark on being elected Democratic Minority Whip. Since her time as a member of the Massachusetts legislature, Congresswoman Clark has been a strong partner and ally of the Jewish community in word and in action. She has always stood up against discrimination and hate in all forms and matched her conviction for a more equitable country with substantive policy priorities. She has been a steadfast supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship and an opponent of demonization of the Jewish state. From standing with us against antisemitism, for gun safety, and to protect and expand voting rights and preserving our democracy, Congresswoman Clark has been a clarion voice throughout our Commonwealth and our country. We look forward to her continued leadership and partnership for the benefit of all who live in our great nation.”
Governor Baker signed the $3.7 billion dollar economic development bill, which makes significant investments in the Commonwealth’s social infrastructure. The signing of this bill continues to build on the Governor and the Legislature’s commitment to investing in communal security and support for our most vulnerable residents.
We thank Governor Baker, Senate President Spilka, Speaker Mariano, Chairs Michlewitz and Rodrigues for their ongoing partnership and responsiveness to the issues faced within and beyond our community.
As the advocacy organization for the organized Jewish community, we are proud to have secured an additional investment of $5 million dollars for nonprofit security grants to institutions at high risk of terror attacks and an increased investment of $175,000 dollars for providers of programming and services for naturally occurring retirement communities (NORC).
Nonprofit security grant funding is in addition to the $3 million dollars allocated in the FY23 budget. Our lead legislative sponsors, Senator Eric Lesser and Representative Ruth Balser have been a consistent champions through the legislative process as the need for organizations continues to grow. Expanded funding of this program enables increased participation for faith based and nonprofit organizations across the Commonwealth to invest in target hardening and other security measures that help protect communities against continued threats and to remain spaces of community gathering and worship.
NORC providers, which include JF&CS, JFS of Metrowest and JFS of Western Mass deliver an “Aging in Place” model that promotes healthy aging, independence, and community building through a multifaceted approach. We are grateful to lead sponsors, Representative Tommy Vitolo and Senator Cynthia Creem for their leadership in seeking funding for NORC.
We are committed to continuing to be the leading voice on issues impacting our community, to invest in programs and services that enable people to live self-determined lives, free from fear and discrimination.
The voters of Israel have spoken in a free and fair election, and it appears that Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu will, in the coming days, be provided the opportunity to form the next government of the State of Israel.
The organized Jewish community of Greater Boston holds a deep respect for and commitment to the democratic process, both in our country and in Israel. We welcome and support the efforts already underway by the current government to ensure a peaceful transfer of power.
We also take this moment to note that Israel’s electoral system can lead to political results that do not fully reflect the will of all of the people of the nation, not unlike the electoral system in the United States. This week’s election campaign and results suggest a nation that is deeply divided, even as the electoral process will likely provide a distinct mandate to the parties currently in opposition. Those who would celebrate this outcome, and those who will be dismayed by it, should all take heed of this reality as we discuss and interpret the meaning of this election. In the coming years we will continue to strive to engage with curiosity to understand these differences among the Israeli people and with those in our own community who will have differing responses to this outcome.
What remains true, for us, the Jewish Community Relations Council on behalf of the organized Jewish community of Boston, is our deep love for and commitment to the people and the State of Israel. JCRC will continue to work every day to strengthen the US-Israel relationship. JCRC will continue to support all those who live and work there, our friends and partners on the ground who are striving every day to build an inspiring future of equality and opportunity for all of Israel’s citizens. JCRC will continue to work with our friends and partners to advance the conditions for peace and co-existence with Israel’s neighbors. JCRC will continue to confront and challenge those who deny the legitimacy of the Jewish people’s right to statehood and those who hold Israel to standards that they do not apply to any other democratic state.
At the same time, we would be remiss to not take note of the success of the Otzma Yehudit faction in this election. This party was founded by disciples of Meir Kahane and is understood to be a successor to his Kach movement – which was banned by the State of Israel and declared a terrorist organization by both Israel and the United States.
It is the long-held view of JCRC and of a broad sector of the American Jewish community – going back many decades and oft reaffirmed - that the anti-democratic, racist, and violent values of Kach, and now of Otzma Yehudit, are anathema to our Jewish values and to the values expressed in Israel’s declaration of statehood ensuring “complete equality of social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of religion”. It is because of our continued and unyielding commitment to Israel as a Jewish, secure, and democratic state that JCRC has stated before and we restate now that we abhor any effort to normalize these views and to bring these actors into any governing coalition.
As Israel’s political parties enter a period of negotiations over the form of the next coalition government, we take this moment to express our hope that responsible leaders across the ideological spectrum will recognize and appreciate that the inclusion of an extreme faction like Otzma Yehudit in the coming coalition could have potentially significant consequences: for Israel’s democratic character; for Israel’s relationship with some of its strongest allies in our Congress (who have already expressed concerns); and for Jewish communities like ours that take inspiration from Israel’s declaration of statehood in our continued work in partnership with and support for all its people.
JCRC has communicated to the representatives of the government of Israel and to our partners and friends in Israel our concerns, our commitments, and our hopes for the coming period of negotiations.
Ye is an outlier
The troubled artist is facing consequences for his antisemitism. Those using him as cover for their hateful views keep getting away with it.
“We end up losing, even when there are consequences,” said Jeremy Burton, who heads the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. “Antisemitism is so rooted in a conspiracy theory about Jewish influence and nefariousness that [punishing Ye] validates the antisemitism.”
As the voice of Greater Boston’s organized Jewish community, JCRC has convened a working group to articulate our communal values and offer a roadmap for living them out. Developed in conversation with partners and longstanding leaders, our work is guided by this charter and principles.
We will continue to work to defend access to abortion care through communal events and convenings, advocacy, and direct support.
Convening Synagogue Leaders
JCRC is convening leaders from a variety of synagogues in MA who want to learn from and with one another and coordinate opportunities for education and action. If you and your community would like to learn more, please contact Director of Synagogue Organizing, Rachie Lewis at .
Abortion Care Package Drive
JCRC is collecting care packages to distribute to a variety of local abortion providers to offer to their patients. If you would like to organize a care package drive in your congregation, please contact Rachie Lewis, Director of Synagogue Organizing at .
We encourage people to donate to the National Council of Jewish Women’s Jewish Fund for Abortion Access, in partnership with and support of the National Abortion Federation, and funds travel and abortion support for those across the country who need it.
MA Legislative Advocacy
There is so much we can do to protect and strengthen abortion access, even in Massachusetts where our legislature has taken strong action to protect providers and people seeking care. Working in coalition with groups like, Reproductive Equity Now, Planned Parenthood, and ACLU Mass we will continues to advocate on the Beyond ROE Agenda to protect and expand access to care, support patient and providers, and increase education and research. Both in the near term and long term, we will facilitate conversations with elected leaders and members of our community to demonstrate the breadth and depth of our commitment to abortion access in Massachusetts. For more information contact .
If you have additional questions about how to engage with this work, don’t hesitate to reach out.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) today joins with the majority of Americans and the vast majority of American Jews - who support the preservation of the constitutional right to personal control of one’s own reproductive decisions – in expressing our anger and dismay regarding the overturning of Roe v. Wade. There can be no equivocating: The decision in Dobbs v. Jackson threatens the freedom, health, and lives of people across the United States, and the heaviest burden falls upon communities of color and low-income communities.
We lift up, yet again, that Dobbs constitutes a specific infringement on the rights of American Jews and on other faith communities whose approach to the question of when life begins differs from the approaches of the Christian tradition.
It is impossible to fully articulate the nuances and complexities of thousands of years of Jewish tradition and law in one paragraph. Suffice to say that we approach the fetus as a “potential life” and one that must be considered and weighed in relation to the “existing and actual life” of the person carrying it. Even under the most conservative interpretation, Jewish tradition and law mandates the termination of a pregnancy in certain circumstances involving the life or health of the mother. We respect other people’s beliefs that life begins at conception, but this is not our tradition.
Accordingly, our nation should be striving toward a society governed by humanistic and universal principles, rather than be limited by those of the one faith tradition. Our failure to do so denies rights for all Americans, will cause genuine harm for many, and, in this case, a severe limitation on the ability of minority communities to live fully in America in accordance with our own traditions. Today’s ruling effectively elevates one religious viewpoint over others and infringes upon Jewish individuals’ right to follow the tenets of our faith.
JCRC has long advocated for the protection of abortion rights and for unrestricted access to affordable, legal health care for all people. We are proud to have supported efforts here in Massachusetts, including the passage of the ROE Act, that ensures that abortion remains legal and protected in our Commonwealth.
Jewish tradition exhorts us to not despair at times when the bridge ahead is narrow. We will meet this dark moment with resolve and clarity.
The organized Jewish community of Greater Boston will strongly oppose any effort by Congress to curtail or ban abortions. We will work in coalition to ensure that our state is prepared to welcome and serve the thousands of additional people who will travel here to seek medical care and exercise reproductive rights.
As we look to a post-Roe future that is unsettling and uncertain at best, and lethally dangerous at worst, JCRC will continue to lead our community in the fight to protect fundamental reproductive rights – and religious freedom - for all Americans.
Below are resources and events locally and in the Jewish community:
- National Council of Jewish Women's Virtual Jewish Vigil for Abortion Justice, today at 4PM ET
- Join JCRC, JALSA, and the Beyond Roe Coalition for an Abortion Access Rapid Response Gathering on the Boston Common, today at 5PM
- JCRC CEO Jeremy Burton Blog on The Debate over Reproductive Rights – A Jewish Perspective
- Massachusetts Jewish leaders dismayed, angered over likely reversal of Roe v. Wade
Under the guise of an interactive map, the innocuously named “Mapping Project” is promoting a list of Jewish communal organizations in Massachusetts that it contends are “responsible for colonization of Palestine or other harms such as policing, US Imperialism and displacement”. Virtually every Jewish organization in the Commonwealth, along with its leadership, is listed in this map along with the relationships of each to civic, governmental, university and other community organizations. Whether those relationships were cultivated by the Jewish institution or the community organization, the underlying messages are clear: Jews are responsible for the ills of our community and if you maintain your relationship with Jewish organizations, you will share that responsibility.
It is a list with names and organizations to be shunned, isolated and disenfranchised. And it draws on age-old antisemitic tropes that are all too clear to our community: Jewish wealth, control and conspiracies.
But we will not be intimidated and we will not be silent.
As a Jewish community, and one that has made allyship and outreach the cornerstones of our work, we condemn this demonization of the Boston Jewish community and attack on its relationship with others. This is no thinly veiled attempt to target the Jewish community – it is an explicit one that is keeping lists and naming names.
At a time when antisemitism, including antisemitic attacks on the legitimacy of the Jewish State of Israel intensify, we in Boston will stand together and continue our work building bridges, supporting our allies and each other, and confronting antisemitism where we see it and when we experience it – as we do today. And we ask you to join us in helping our friends and community leaders and organizations recognize the antisemitism embedded in this hate-filled effort and ask them to join us in calling this out.
We have just marked the 20 year anniversary of the dedication of the Zakim Bridge – a visual reminder of the bridge-building led by Lenny Zakim. At this moment, let us take inspiration from his words as we join together:
We have the power to change things. It doesn’t take much to start a revolution of thought and spirit. It takes one person and then another. When it works, it’s a work of art.
For the second time in two weeks, just ten days after a racist mass shooting in Buffalo that killed 10 people, our nation must endure another mass shooting. This incident is now the deadliest school shooting in Texas history and the deadliest mass shooting at a U.S. elementary school since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.
The news out of Texas yesterday is heartbreaking and enraging.
We extend our heartfelt prayers to all of the victims and to their families in Uvalde, Texas.
But we also recognize that thoughts and prayers are not enough; not enough for us as engaged citizens and most of all, not enough 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 Newtown, Connecticut; San Bernardino, California; Roseburg, Oregon; at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina; at the Pulse Night Club in Tampa, Florida; at a Congressional baseball practice in suburban Washington, D.C.; at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada; at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh; in Parkland, Florida; Buffalo, New York; and now Uvalde, Texas – these acts of violence must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
There is an epidemic of gun violence in this country.
Our leaders have done precious little to address the nation's gun laws instead of using every tool at their disposal to affect changes to our laws to protect every citizen from such senseless violence.
For us at JCRC, the commitment to gun violence prevention runs deep. We reaffirm now what we have said in the past: common sense gun safety regulation, while safeguarding the ability of law-abiding Americans 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 that has contributed to Massachusetts having one of the lowest gun death rates in the nation, but we cannot take the strength of our laws for granted.
Today, JCRC renews our commitment to work 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 yesterday. We must not wait even one more day to demand action that will save others still with us.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston is deeply committed to ensuring people can live self-determined lives with safety, meaning and connection, free from barriers and stigma. In partnership with council members and community allies, we are committed to identifying and advancing policy interventions that address urgent needs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting stresses, isolation, financial insecurity, and increasing experience of discrimination and antisemitism.
Access to mental health care is at the intersection of these concerns, and we have seen dramatically increased need across the Jewish community and residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Interactions in our day-to-day lives and in data collected before and during the pandemic compel us to address this crisis as a collective, rooted in our commitment to advancing social, economic, and racial justice.
Principles as Adopted by JCRC Council on April 26, 2022:
JCRC supports legislation and public policies that ensure access to residents within and beyond the Jewish community that:
- Provide adequate funding for expanding mental health care access, without diverting resources from primary care, and invest money in innovative and non-traditional approaches to mental health care
- Codify the coverage of annual mental health wellness exams similarly to annual physicals
- Expand access to and incentivize the delivery of outpatient mental health care
- Enforce and implement mental health care parity to achieve more equitable coverage
- End the emergency department boarding crisis through better coordination, expanded services, and statewide monitoring
- Address existing mental health disparities among people of color, LGBTQIA+ communities, and historically marginalized and underserved communities
- Create equitable reimbursement to providers and eliminate requirements that overburden providers and delay consumer access to care
- Enhance and expand the available mental health workforce through interim licensure and efforts focused on pipeline development, recruitment and retention
- Build a workforce that is diverse and representative of communities that have been traditionally underserved through innovative programs that increase access to professional opportunities
Today, sadly, we witnessed yet another terror attack in Israel – the fourth in a series of escalating attacks over the past two weeks targeting the civilian population of Israel. We share the immense pain of the families and are heartbroken by the tragic loss of life.
We stand with Israel in the face of this ongoing wave of terror, pray for the speedy recovery of the injured, and extend our deepest condolences to the victims’ loved ones.
We echo the comments of Issawi Frej, Minister of Regional Cooperation and an Arab citizen of Israel: “When these people attack, they don’t only attack Jews, they attack all human beings, they attack you and me and everyone who is looking for hope and for peace. We must not let these extreme people take us to a dark place.”
Extremists who oppose reconciliation and normalization can never silence those who work hard every day toward a vision of two states for two peoples, living side by side in peace and security. This indiscriminate and senseless violence has taken the lives of Arabs, Druze, Christians, and Jews alike – including Ukrainian foreign workers. We call upon all those who wish for a better future for all of Israel’s citizens to join us in condemning these cowardly acts of terror.