Category Archives: News and Press

Texas synagogue incident and community briefing this Tuesday

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Dear Friends,

Yesterday Jews around the world watched in horror the unfolding situation at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas where Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and three other congregants were held hostage while taking part in Shabbat services. Thankfully, due to the diligent work of law enforcement, the hostages were able to return to their homes safely last night. We join the leaders and institutions of all faiths across our community and the world who have sent prayers, love, and strength to the freed hostages and to the Congregation Beth Israel community and we thank all the law enforcement in Texas who ensured the safe outcome.

Yet, again, the Jewish community finds itself facing the reality that hateful, violent antisemitism is real, and that we cannot worship peacefully in our synagogues without fear for our safety. This is a story that hits all too close to home for all of us. It has been just six months since Rabbi Noginski was stabbed in Brighton. It is critical that we do not become desensitized or that we allow fear to become a part of being Jewish in America. This is a painful reminder that the American Jewish community continues to be the target of antisemitic attacks fueled by extremism.

CJP, JCRC, and ADL work closely with our local, state law enforcement and national partners, including the Secure Community Network (SCN) to ensure the safety and security of our community. In the past 24 hours we have reached out to the 250 partner organizations that we routinely assist with security guidance and will continue to do so in the days ahead.

For information and resources relating to communal safety and security visit the Communal Security Initiative web page. At this time, we are not aware of any specific, credible threats to our Greater Boston Jewish community.

Finally, we invite you to join us for a virtual community briefing: Convening on Texas Incident: What you Need to Know on Tuesday, January 18, at 5:00 p.m. ET. You’ll hear directly from law enforcement and our security professionals about the incident, what we are doing, and what we can all do to keep our community safe.

Thank you for your ongoing partnership and support. Together, we will keep our community vibrant, safe, and strong.

Rabbi Marc Baker, Combined Jewish Philanthropies

Jeremy Burton, Jewish Community Relations Council

Robert Trestan, Anti-Defamation League

ADL and JCRC Welcome Passage of Genocide Education Legislation

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ADL and JCRC Welcome Passage of Genocide Education Legislation

(Boston, MA):  ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) welcome the passage by the House of Representatives today of S.2557, An Act concerning genocide education. When signed into law, Massachusetts will become the 20th state to have adopted mandatory Holocaust and genocide education.  We thank Speaker Mariano and Chairman Michlewitz for their leadership and vision in passing this critical legislation. We are deeply grateful also to the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jeff Roy, for his long commitment to championing this bill and for Rep. Alice Peisch’s support as Chair of the Joint Committee on Education. 

This legislation demonstrates our commitment to providing schools across the Commonwealth with access to resources to implement genocide education programs. Through lessons about the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and other instances of genocide, such programs will serve to ensure that students learn to recognize and fight hate in their communities.

“Genocide education affords us a powerful tool in combatting hate and antisemitism while honoring the memories of all who suffered in genocide” noted ADL New England Regional Director, Robert Trestan.  “Sadly, grim reminders of hate continue to fester in our schools and athletic fields while the Holocaust itself has been alternately denied or weaponized for political soundbites.  We now have an opportunity to influence the present by drawing on the lessons of the past as we move towards implementation of this important legislation in Massachusetts’ schools.”

“As stewards of the New England Holocaust Memorial, JCRC honors the sacred obligation to lift up the experiences of those who survived the Holocaust in our own Greater Boston community, using their stories as a lesson to future generations about the consequences of unchecked hatred and intolerance.” Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, stated. “Together with ADL New England, the Armenian National Committee, and over 60 coalition members, JCRC advocated for this legislation, filed by Senator Michael Rodrigues and Representative Jeff Roy, which will give all students across the Commonwealth the tools to identify and stand up against hateful, oppressive acts and to speak up in the face of bigotry.”

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About ADL 

ADL is a leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of antisemitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. More at www.adl.org.  

About JCRC

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

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Statement from JCRCs on Congressional Funding of the Iron Dome Missile Defense System

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Statement from Jewish Community Relations Councils on Congressional
Funding of the Iron Dome Missile Defense System

September 23, 2021

As Jewish Community Relations Councils deeply committed to a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we thank the 420 Members of Congress who voted to fully fund the replenishment of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. This overwhelming bipartisan vote demonstrates the commitment of the United States to upholding the special relationship with Israel and reaffirming Israel’s right to defend itself. We are deeply disappointed with those Members from our own delegations who failed to support this uniquely bipartisan vote.

The Iron Dome determines which rockets are likely to hit civilian areas and attempts to destroy them mid-air, thus saving lives. Without the Iron Dome, rockets launched by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and other terror organizations would surely maim and murder countless additional Israeli Jews, Muslims, and Christians, as well as Palestinians. Simply put, Iron Dome limits severe escalation of the conflict on a near-daily basis.

Objecting to funding this purely defensive technology reveals an attempt to further isolate and delegitimize Israel. We are proud that the overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans are committed to funding the Iron Dome.

Signed:

Jewish Community Relations Council of Chicago 
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston 
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Indianapolis 
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix 
Jewish Community Relations Council of Louisville 
Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas 
Jewish Community Relations Council of New York 
Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis 
Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee of Detroit

Joint ADL/JCRC Statement regarding Genocide Education Bill

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ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) are pleased to support S2557, An Act concerning genocide education, as reported by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means this afternoon. We are grateful to Chair Rodrigues and his team for their leadership on this strong bill that achieves key objectives in providing schools across the Commonwealth with access to resources to implement genocide education programs. Through lessons about the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and other instances of genocide, such programs will serve to ensure that students learn to recognize and fight hate in their communities.

Genocide education is key to combating hate by helping students understand how seemingly benign stereotypes and prejudice can turn into atrocity. Over the last several years, we have seen a significant rise in hateful incidents in our communities, paired with a dangerous downturn in knowledge about the Holocaust and other genocides. We appreciate the support of the House and Senate Chairs of the Joint Committee on Education in moving this legislation forward early in session and hope to see it make its way to Governor Baker’s desk as swiftly as possible.

Statement from JCRCs on Congressional Funding of the Iron Dome Missile Defense System

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Statement from Jewish Community Relations Councils on Congressional
Funding of the Iron Dome Missile Defense System

September 23, 2021

As Jewish Community Relations Councils deeply committed to a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we thank the 420 Members of Congress who voted to fully fund the replenishment of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. This overwhelming bipartisan vote demonstrates the commitment of the United States to upholding the special relationship with Israel and reaffirming Israel’s right to defend itself. We are deeply disappointed with those Members from our own delegations who failed to support this uniquely bipartisan vote.

The Iron Dome determines which rockets are likely to hit civilian areas and attempts to destroy them mid-air, thus saving lives. Without the Iron Dome, rockets launched by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and other terror organizations would surely maim and murder countless additional Israeli Jews, Muslims, and Christians, as well as Palestinians. Simply put, Iron Dome limits severe escalation of the conflict on a near-daily basis.

Objecting to funding this purely defensive technology reveals an attempt to further isolate and delegitimize Israel. We are proud that the overwhelming majority of Democrats and Republicans are committed to funding the Iron Dome.

Signed:

Jewish Community Relations Council of Chicago 
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston 
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Indianapolis 
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Phoenix 
Jewish Community Relations Council of Louisville 
Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas 
Jewish Community Relations Council of New York 
Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis 
Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee of Detroit

Incident in Brighton, and Community Gathering tomorrow

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Dear Friends,

We are writing with upsetting news.

As many of you are aware, Chabad Rabbi Shlomo Noginski was attacked and stabbed on the street outside the Shaloh House in Brighton this afternoon.

Rabbi Noginski has been taken to the hospital and is undergoing treatment. Police have arrested the suspected attacker. The motive remains unclear, and an investigation is ongoing. We are working closely with Boston Police to get answers and ensure that our community is protected.

CJP’s Director of Communal Security has visited the site of the incident and the hospital, and we are in contact with the local police and law enforcement. We have spoken with Rabbi Noginski’s family, as well as with Rabbi Rodkin, the leader of Shaloh House, who appreciates all the support he is already receiving from the community.

As a community, an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. If one of us feels vulnerable, we all are vulnerable. We will not be silent, and we will be there together. In this spirit, we are planning a community gathering for tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. on the Brighton Common, 30 Chestnut Hill Avenue, to come together and show our support for the rabbi, his family, and community. More details soon, and we will update information here as it becomes available. Please join us.

With prayers for Rabbi Noginski’s full and speedy recovery,

Rabbi Marc Baker, Combined Jewish Philanthropies
Jeremy Burton, Jewish Community Relations Council
Robert Trestan, Anti-Defamation League

Statement from JCRC regarding MA State Senator Jamie Eldridge’s Statement on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

It is utterly shocking that a member of the Massachusetts Senate would elevate Hamas as a legitimate actor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There can be absolutely no moral equivalence between the State of Israel - an American ally, whatever criticisms one may hold about that nation’s government - and Hamas, a designated foreign terror organization, by both the United States and European Union, that is funded and supported by the regime in Iran and whose charter explicitly calls for the elimination of the State of Israel.

The legitimization of a designated terrorist organization by an elected official is irresponsible  and should be a matter of grave concern to all residents of our Commonwealth and to his colleagues. We insist that Senator Eldridge clarify his views.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) actively supports efforts to achieve Palestinian national aspirations through peaceful means. We are wholly committed to realizing the full equality of all Israel’s citizens. Conversations about the relationship of “occupation” between the State of Israel and the Palestinian people are important and we embrace those challenging conversations.

JCRC has reached out to Massachusetts State Senator Jamie Eldridge to request an opportunity to discuss our concerns regarding his statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Despite our long relationship with Senator Eldridge he has not, at this time, responded to our request, nor did he make any attempt to be in dialogue with us prior to issuing his statement.  

Update – June 10, 2021, 4pm

We welcome Senator Jamie Eldridge’s statement of clarification today, including, specifically, regarding his understanding of the terrorist organization Hamas. We thank the Senator for the discussion we had today, and we look forward to being in continued dialogue with him about how to advance our shared commitment to achieving a secure and peaceful future for Israelis and Palestinians.

Anti-Israel BDS defeated in Cambridge

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Dear friends,

Last night, the Cambridge City Council overwhelmingly rejected an order that would have singled out Israel by boycotting city purchases of products made by Hewlett Packard, which also sells technology to Israel.

The decision came after more than seven hours of testimony on Monday night. Our community was mobilized and energized to push back against a one-sided narrative presented a week earlier, when the motion was first debated during the Shavuot holiday. After action alerts and social media blasts, more than 150 people argued live (on Zoom) against the measure, while an additional 250 Cambridge residents signed on to provide joint testimony that was read to the City Council. Our Jewish community — including CJP and JCRC volunteers, Israeli Americans, business leaders, interfaith leaders, and many others — ensured that Cambridge would not allow Israel to be delegitimized, marginalized, or maligned by the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks Israel’s destruction.

As many speakers and City Council Members noted, the BDS battle pitted neighbor against neighbor and divided the Cambridge community. Instead of building bridges and creating understanding — the groundwork for peace — BDS “drives a wedge even deeper,” said Council Member Marc McGovern.

We thank the partners who have co-led this effort and worked tirelessly to call out anti-Israel hate and bigotry — the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Israeli American Council and StandWithUs — as well as the local organizations and congregations in Cambridge who mobilized their members. This was a collaborative effort and a powerful example of what we can achieve when we work together.

We also commend the members of the Cambridge City Council who tabled the discussion on Shavuot to accommodate the religious needs of some in our community, and who saw through this effort that sought to make Cambridge the first city in the United States to embrace virulently anti-Israel BDS.

The fight against the BDS movement has grown as its proponents have become bolder, more organized, and more sophisticated than ever before. It’s up to us to remain vigilant, to push back against Israel hate, and call out this divisive tactic whenever and wherever we see it.

We have tremendous work ahead — thank you for your support and partnership.

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Rabbi Marc Baker

President and CEO, CJP

Jeremy Burton

Executive Director, JCRC

 

Emergency Action Alert

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Dear Friends –

We need your help and your voice to confront a one-sided effort to delegitimize Israel in Cambridge.

This coming Monday, May 24, at 5:30 p.m., the Cambridge City Council is expected to complete debate and vote on a BDS measure.

On Monday, as Jews commemorated Shavuot, the Cambridge City Council held a hearing that would order the city’s purchasing department to, “review corporate contracts and identify any companies that are in violation of Cambridge’s policy on discrimination, including (but not limited to) Hewlett Packard … over their role in abetting apartheid in the Middle East…to ensure that the city embody the values it put on paper.”

The proposal is part of a larger BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement that is, in significant part and, in their own words, dedicated to Israel’s destruction.

That this proposal is even considered in Cambridge brings up disturbing questions of why Israel – and no other nation in the world – is the target of sanctions and why a hearing, which could have been held any Monday night of the year, was debated during a Jewish holiday.

If you are a Cambridge resident, please consider submitting written testimony or being prepared to testify live during the virtual meeting (see details about testifying and suggested talking points here). If you’re not a resident, and have friends or business interests in the city, please forward this alert and urge them to speak out.

We hope you can make your voice heard and take a stand against BDS in Cambridge. Find more info and talking points here.

Instructions for Speaking at Cambridge City Council:

1. Starting tomorrow, May 21, at 9 a.m., you may register to speak by clicking this link. Instructions including the agenda numbers will be updated on this website as soon as the information is available.
2. Registration to speak closes on Monday, May 24 at 6 p.m. Please register in advance.
3. For more information on signing on to speak or to view the City Council meeting on May 24 at 5:30 p.m. on Zoom, click here.

Helpful Tips

  • You will be allowed only two minutes to speak. Time is strictly limited. You will be cut off by if you go over two minutes. Prepare your comments in advance to ensure that you adhere to the time limit.
  • Participation is by voice only; you will not be on video.
  • Make your comments personal and from the heart.
  • Do not spend too much time focusing on the situation in Israel. Focus on the issue in Cambridge and how it affects you, your business, your family, etc.

Action Items and Talking Points on Cambridge City Council (CCC) Resolution

Background

On May 17th the Cambridge City Council (CCC) held a hearing to advance a BDS initiative. Policy Order 2021 #109 directs the city manager to “review corporate contracts and identify any companies that are in violation of Cambridge’s policy on discrimination, including (but not limited to) Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Hewlett Packard Incorporated over their role in abetting apartheid in the Middle East.”  The target of this resolution is Israel. Here are things to know.

Take Action

  1. Cambridge Residents: In lieu of testifying, you can sign on to this letter detailing your opposition. The letter will be presented to the City Council during the meeting to demonstrate the strong opposition by Cambridge residents to this resolution.
  2. Encourage your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and others in your network who are Cambridge residents to sign this letter by sharing this email with them.
  3. An individual may signup to speak before the Cambridge City Council via telephone to the City Council office on Monday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., or on-line via the City’s website, starting at 9:00 a.m. today.
  4. You can also submit written testimony to the entire City Council by way of email
  5. Please make sure to indicate when signing up or emailing that you are addressing POR 2021 #109 on the May 24th

Talking Points

1. The CCC Proceeded with the Hearing with Full Knowledge That Many Jews Would Be Excluded

The Cambridge City Council proceeded with a hearing on the resolution after having been notified, days in advance, that many interested parties would not be able to attend due to observance of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.   Councilor Zondervan communicated that he supported disenfranchising Jews in stating, “I appreciate that it is the Shavuot holiday, but last week it was Eid. That didn’t seem to prevent the Israeli government from bombing and evicting and terrorizing Palestinian people.”  We are grateful to Councilor Patricia Nolan, who stepped in to ensure that the actual vote would be deferred until Monday May 24th. We hope that others will speak to the apparent readiness to disenfranchise Jews.

2. The CCC Resolution is a Sham

According to the City of Cambridge’s assistant city manager for finance, it has been nearly seven (7) years since Cambridge has had a direct purchase order with Hewlett Packard. In other words, the resolution is addressing “a problem” that does not exist. It is a sham, whose only purpose is to demonize Israel.

3. Singling Out Israel and Holding It to a Unique Ethical Standard Raises Troubling Questions

There are hundreds of American companies that are working overseas and engaged in transactions that could be tied to questionable human rights practices. Examples include energy companies like Aramco in Saudi Arabia (persecution of religious minorities, women, and members of the LGBTQ community) and technology and consumer companies like Apple and Foxconn in China (child and slave labor).  Why is the CCC focused only on a company that does business with Israel? This focus on Israel betrays a deeper and concerning animus to the world’s only Jewish state.

4. CCC Proposes to Hold HP and Israel to a Standard It Does Not Apply to Cambridge Based Companies

If the CCC is intent on disassociating itself from companies that violate human rights then it need not trouble itself with events halfway around the world. A March 2020 report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, for example, cited 82 major corporations that have items in their supply chain created by Uyghur slave labor. Some of these are prominent tech and retail companies with large offices and stores in Cambridge (we are glad to provide additional information). Other companies with stores in Cambridge are selling merchandise from companies that reportedly have product made with Uyghur slave labor in their supply chain. Is the City of Cambridge concerned that it may be doing business with these companies?  Might the City of Cambridge be extending benefits to some of these companies? Have members of the CCC paused to ask these questions?

5. The Accusation that Israel Practices Apartheid is False and Malicious

Like with other BDS initiatives, the primary purpose for proceeding with Policy Order 2021 #109 is to advance false and malicious ideas that will serve to delegitimize Israel. BDS has been rejected by everyone from Joe Biden and Barak Obama to Cory Booker, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Kennedy, Jamal Bowman and governors from all 50 states.  Yet, proponents continue to try to advance their claims by cherry picking data to support extreme and unsubstantiated claims.  Here is what they will not tell you.

Israeli policies in the West Bank are primarily motivated by security concerns arising from the sustained violence that has resulted in the murder and maiming of thousands of Israelis.  These policies can be the subject of honest debate, but it is a false and malign distortion to suggest they are racially motivated, much less akin to apartheid.  Resolutions that advance such ideas distort the reality on the ground and provide cover to groups like Hamas, an internationally recognized terrorist group that rejects peace and co-existence with Israel on any terms. This is a dubious role for an American city.

6.  One Sided BDS Narratives Undermine Prospects for Peace

BDS initiatives, such as the one now under consideration, are deceptive and misleading. They spread false malign information about Israel, fuel polarization, and strengthen the hands of those who reject peaceful co-existence. In this time of heightened tensions, we might hope that elected leaders would seek ways to promote engagement and reconciliation.  The CCC, however, is contemplating a different path, one that will further inflame tensions and foster division. The vehicle for this is a resolution that ignores one side’s commitment to violence and its contempt for peace, while conveying a false view of the actions and views of the other. The losers of such hubris are always the Palestinians and Israelis, who hope for a new day where peace is possible. The City of Cambridge can be part of the solution or pour fuel on the fire. Which will it be?