Category Archives: News and Press

Abortion Access

As the representative body of the organized Jewish community, we condemn the Supreme Court ruling and are committed to working in partnership with policymakers and stakeholders to ensure continued abortion access. Click here to read our statement on the ruling.

We have long advocated for the protection of abortion rights and for unrestricted access to affordable healthcare for all people and will continue to actively work to ensure Massachusetts is a beacon for healthcare access. As hard-won civil rights are eroded disproportionally impacting marginalized communities, we must work to enact legislation that our society be governed by humanistic and universal principles.

This work is critical to bodily autonomy and religious freedom. We are proud to stand in partnership with Jewish organizations, like NCJW Massachusetts, JALSA, and Hadassah among others to strengthen access here in Massachusetts and to protect abortion for people across the country. Together we must find the ability to channel our outrage into action.

We need your active engagement to talk to legislators, to tell your stories, and to support innovative work that will leverage our strength as a community.

We applaud Governor Baker, the Senate, and the House for taking swift action to further protect and strengthen abortion access in Massachusetts. Click here to see our letter to the House and statements on the action of the Legislature.

We know we need to raise our voices to be clear that the organized Jewish community stands in strong support legislation that codifies protection for those seeking abortion care and those that provide it. We will be partnering with organizations to advocate on this critical agenda and are proud to have contributed to the passage of the ROE Act this past session through our engagement in the ROE Coalition.

We are exploring conversations with community based organizations and faith partners to understand how we can further use our resource networks to support abortion for people from other states. Massachusetts residents can play a pivotal role for people who seek abortion care and we want to learn from others how to best engage in this work. We need to best utilize our resources in this moment and are exploring what this could look like now and in the future.

If you are interested in advocating with us and continuing to stay informed as resource networks develop, please indicate your interest here. If you have any general questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to FayeRuth Fisher, Director of Government Affairs at .

JCRC of Greater Boston Condemns Supreme Court Decision Overturning Roe v. Wade

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: 

Community Response to BDS Supported Mapping Project

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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.

JCRC Statement on Mass Shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas

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.

JCRC’s Adopted Mental Health Advocacy Principles

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

JCRC Statement on Terror Attacks in Israel

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.

JCRC and MAJF Call for Russian Divestment from State Pension Funds

For Immediate Release
March 8, 2022     

Contact: Shira Burns

JCRC and MAJF Call for Russian Divestment from State Pension Funds

(Boston, MA) The Jewish Community Relations Council and the Mass. Association of Jewish Federations sent a letter today calling on the MA House and Senate to take up and pass proposed legislation requiring the Massachusetts Pension Reserve Management Fund (PRIM) to identify and divest from companies doing business with Russia.

“Since 1990, the Boston Jewish community has had a deep and lasting partnership with the Jewish community of Dnipro, Ukraine, home to over 40,000 members of the Jewish community,” the letter states. “Any money invested in Russia or companies doing business with the Russian state is tacit approval of the reprehensible actions taken by Russian President Vladimir Putin and those who prop up his regime.”

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.

About MAJF
MAJF: The Massachusetts Association of Jewish Federations is a statewide government affairs office that strengthens the relationship between the Jewish community and elected officials and personnel in key government departments, advocates for issues of concern to the community, and helps its members access public funding to provide services to its clients.

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Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston Names FayeRuth Fisher as Director of Government Affairs; David Cohen as Director of Community Affairs

For Immediate Release
February 10, 2022                                                                              

Contact: Shira Burns

Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston Names FayeRuth Fisher as Director of Government Affairs; David Cohen as Director of Community Affairs

(Boston, MA) – The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) today announced two new members of its senior leadership team: FayeRuth Fisher, Director of Government Affairs and David Cohen, Director of Community Affairs. As directors, Fisher and Cohen will work collaboratively with the JCRC staff and board, its member organizations, and outside partners to further advances the values, interests, and priorities of the organized Jewish community in Greater Boston.

“In FayeRuth and David we have two professionals who have dedicated their careers to elevating conversations on some very complex, emotional, and important issues,” said Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of JCRC. “I look forward to them joining the JCRC team and helping further our mission of building a vibrant Jewish community that lives our values and advances them in the world.”

Fisher has over 20 years of experience in federal, state, and municipal government affairs. She joins JCRC from 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East where she serves as Massachusetts Political Director, overseeing the political department on behalf of over 70,000 healthcare workers from across the Commonwealth. Fisher holds a bachelor’s degree from Hampshire College and a master’s degree in social work from Simmons University. She is involved with several community organizations.

“To me, this work is deeply personal and urgent,” said Fisher. “The JCRC of Greater Boston is an effective and well-respected voice on Beacon Hill and I am looking forward to joining the team to further amplify JCRC’s voice as we all strive for a more just and equitable Commonwealth.”

Cohen has spent over 25 years as a Jewish community relations specialist and Jewish educator. He joins JCRC after serving as the JCRC Director for the Richmond Jewish Federation. He previously served as Associate Director for ADL’s office in Boston and as Director of Israel Advocacy for the Jewish Federation in Greater Philadelphia. Cohen holds a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University, a master’s degree in American political history from Boston University, and a master’s degree in Jewish education and organizational leadership from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

“There is no more important work in the Jewish community right now than the work JCRC does to build relationships, provide educational opportunities, and advocate on behalf of the core interests of the entire Jewish community,” said Cohen. “I am excited to start working with my colleagues at JCRC as it continues to play a vital role in the local and national Jewish communal landscape."

Fisher and Cohen will join the JCRC team in March 2022.

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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Jewish Community Asks Governor to Double Security Funding in Wake of Texas Synagogue Hostage Taking

For Immediate Release
Contact: Shira Burns
1.31.22

Jewish Community Asks Governor to Double Security Funding in Wake of Texas Synagogue Hostage Taking

(Boston, MA): As the Jewish community grapples with the emotional aftermath of the recent Texas synagogue hostage-taking situation, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) this week sent a letter to Governor Baker asking that Massachusetts double state funding for the state’s Nonprofit Security Grant program. Thanks to the Governor’s past leadership in prioritizing the safety of the Jewish community and with funding from the NSG Program, Jewish institutions have been able to put some measures in place to protect their members. Unfortunately, the current funding level is insufficient to address all the requests and many institutions continue to have unmet security needs.

The letter, which was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Great Boston and signed by all six of the Jewish Federations in Massachusetts states, “Unfortunately, the situation in Texas was no isolated incident. Antisemitism threatens the safety of Jewish communities who wish to gather and find community. The communities in Massachusetts have seen arson attacks at centers in Arlington and Needham, an attempt to bomb an assisted-living center in Longmeadow, and this past June, the stabbing of a rabbi outside a childcare facility in Brighton. This is not a new phenomenon, but there has been a concerning rise in intensity in recent years that has led the JCRC to try and increase security provision funding.”

They continue, “Though we were shocked by the act of terror, we were not surprised. Every Jew attending synagogue, sending children to Jewish schools, or participating in Jewish institutions, does so with a sense of unease.”

The JCRC is requesting that the Governor increase the grant program from $1.5M to $3M to reflect the increased security needs of institutions around the Commonwealth.

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 www.jcrcboston.org.

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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