Category Archives: Press Releases

JCRC Applauds MA Legislature for Adopting New Law Regarding Election Safety

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 
Contact: Shira Burns
July 8, 2020

(Boston, MA) - The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston applauds Governor Charlie Baker, Senate President Karen Spilka, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Elections Committee Chairs Senator Barry Finegold and John Lawn, and the Massachusetts legislature for standing together and adopting a sweeping new Elections law, ensuring safe and accessible elections for voters in 2020 across Massachusetts.

JCRC is committed to upholding a robust democratic process and ensuring elections in the Commonwealth reflect the diversity of voices in our community.  Together with Common Cause, the ACLU of Massachusetts, the Election Modernization Coalition and 80+ organizations, JCRC advocated for legislation to address the challenges facing the electoral process during the COVID-19 pandemic and this new law is the culmination of a several months long advocacy campaign.

“We congratulate Governor Baker, Senate President Spilka, Speaker DeLeo and our partners in government and the advocacy community for coming together to quickly address the threat and fallout that COVID-19 has on our electoral process,” said Jeremy Burton, Executive Director for the Jewish Community Relations Council. “No one should fear for their health and safety while exercising their right to vote, and this law is an important step in that direction. We urge swift implementation.”

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.

# # #

JCRC to Name Scott Gilefsky as First Vice President of Board of Directors

JCRC is pleased to announce that longtime JCRC leader Scott Gilefsky has accepted our Governance Committee’s nomination as the First Vice President of JCRC. We look forward to presenting his nomination to the Council for election this spring.

“I am energized and humbled to serve as First Vice President at JCRC next year," Scott commented. "I am excited to work with Jeremy, the Board, the Council, and our community partners in support of JCRC's mission: to educate and advocate on issues of vital importance to the organized Jewish community based on consensus, civility, and an expanded commitment to living Jewish values of social justice. I look forward to addressing the challenges that our community will face next year and the years to follow. JCRC is well positioned to meet such challenges.”

Pursuant to our bylaws, this nomination anticipates that Scott Gilefsky will be nominated and elected as the next president of JCRC in 2021, succeeding Stacey Bloom.

Scott has served as JCRC treasurer and chair of the Finance committee, as well as on the Israel Engagement, Strategic Planning, and Public Policy committees. He first became involved with JCRC as a community representative on the Council in 2010 and became a board member the following year.

Scott's engagement in the Jewish community goes well beyond JCRC. He serves on Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP)'s audit committee and is the former chair of the Young Leadership Division and their Kadimah Leadership Training. He was a co-chair for two CJP missions to Israel and the CJP Lawyers & Accountants Dinner, and he received CJP's 2010 Community of Excellence Award.

“I look forward to welcoming Scott as my successor as JCRC president next June,” said current President Stacey Bloom. “I have had the privilege of working with Scott for the last decade—in his many JCRC roles—as a board member, committee chair, and officer. Scott's commitment to JCRC's work, his ability to build strong relationships, and his insight into the challenges and opportunities ahead make him the leader to bring our community together.”

Jonathan Klein, chair of the Governance Committee, remarked, "Scott is a dedicated leader who has been involved in many of the key decisions within JCRC. His commitment to our community’s values will guide the organization, both lay and professional, over the next several years.”

Scott is a partner in Ernst & Young’s East Region Indirect Tax practice and leads the firm’s Connecticut State and Local Tax Practice. He is on the Advisory Board for the New England State and Local Tax Forum and has been a speaker at many seminars and conferences sponsored by Practising Law Institute, the Tax Executives Institute, and the Boston Bar Association, among others. He has written articles for the Boston Business Journal, Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education and the Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyers Journal.

Scott is a member of Temple Beth Shalom in Needham, and a coach in Needham Youth Soccer. He is on the Stan Arnold Scholarship Fund committee as part of his work with the New England State and Local Tax Forum.

JCRC to Lead MA Legislators on Study Tour of Israel

(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 legislators with an in-depth look into the economic, political, and security challenges and successes facing Israeli society.

From December 5-15, Massachusetts legislators will travel throughout Israel and the Palestinian-controlled areas, learning from government officials and religious, academic, media, labor, and business leaders.

“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 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 December 2019 Study Tour of Israel:

Senator William Brownsberger
Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem
Senator Julian Cyr
Senator Adam Hinds
Senator Eric Lesser
Senator Jason Lewis

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.

# # #

 

 

JCRC Applauds Governor for proposing $1 million in additional funds for Non Profit Security Grant Program in Supplemental Budget

(Boston, MA) - The Jewish Community Relations Council applauds Governor Charlie Baker for proposing $1,000,000 in additional funds for state Non-Profit Security Grant program in his latest supplemental budget filing. This proposal, along with the $500,000 included in the recently signed state budget, would fund close to 30 grants for vital security enhancements and protocols at houses of worship, community centers, and other institutions at heightened risk of violence.

Earlier this Spring, JCRC released 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.

"We thank Governor Baker and his Administration 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. "Fear and violence have no place in our communal spaces and these additional funds will help restore a feeling of peace. However, while this is a strong step towards that goal, we urge our allies to combat the motivation for these acts of hatred. Education and mutual respect, not fortification, remains our ultimate hope."

The supplemental budget will be taken up by the House and Senate in the coming weeks. JCRC urges the legislature to act swiftly on this appropriation.

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.

# # #

Governor Baker Signs MA State Budget- Over $8 Million to Support Jewish Social Service Network

(BOSTON) – This week, Governor Charlie Baker signed the state Fiscal Year 2020 budget, fueling $5 million of new funds to support programs and priorities of the Jewish social service network, benefiting the entire Commonwealth.

This year, JCRC led on seven budget priorities, all of which included increases and direct appropriations to the Jewish social service network.

“This is a historic budget for the Jewish community across the Commonwealth,” said Aaron Agulnek, JCRC’s Director of Government Affairs. “We applaud our partners in government who continue to invest and expand in the cutting-edge programming and services, to better serve the dreams of individuals and families seeking opportunity, dignity, and security.”

The budget included:
$500,000 for the Non-Profit Security Grants, a pilot which provides vital security enhancements to Jewish communal infrastructure at increased risk of threat. Senator Eric Lesser and Representative Ruth Balser, along with Senator Cynthia Creem pushed this vital $350,000 increase in funding.

$1,250,000 for the Employment Service Program for Immigrants and Refugees, which provides English-based job training and placement services for recent immigrants and refugees. This $250,000 increase was led by Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Michael Moran.

$500,000 for Bridges to College, which provides college preparatory programming to individuals seeking careers with opportunities for advancement and defined career ladders. The budget also included a $250,000 earmark for Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), supported by Representative Aaron Michlewitz, Senator Cindy Friedman, and Senator Joe Boncore, to expand its innovative programming.

$856,000 for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs), which is operated by Jewish Family & Children's Service, JFS Metrowest, and Jewish Family Service of Western Mass. NORCs are designed to bring wellness programs and socialization services directly to seniors, allowing them to remain in their homes and communities. This $214,000 increase was led by Senator Cynthia Creem and Representative Tommy Vitolo.

$250,000 for Transitions to Work, an innovative job training model for young adults with disabilities, modeled after the JVS/CJP partnership of the same name. This $100,000 increase was led by Senator Michael Barrett and Representative Paul Brodeur.

$2,000,000 for the Secure Jobs Initiative, a silo-busting delivery model conceived by the Fireman Family Foundation, which promotes new partnerships between housing and workforce development agencies, as well as state agencies. There are seven partnerships across the Commonwealth, including JVS and Metro Boston Housing Partnership. This $1,000,000 increase was led by Senator Michael Barrett and Representative Joe Wagner.

Continuity funding for the MA Pathways to Economic Advancement initiative, the nation’s first workforce development Pay for Success program. The model is working; nearly 2,000 participants have enrolled, increasing their job skills and take-home earnings, which is increasing revenue for the Commonwealth. The initial funding period for Pathways is ending and these funds, close to $3 million, will sustain innovation by continuing to support this model while measuring results.

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.

# # #

Over $8 Million Appropriated from MA State Budget to Support Jewish Social Service Network; Awaits Final Approval from the Governor

(BOSTON) – Earlier today, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted its 2020 budget nearly three weeks into the fiscal year, fueling $5 million of new funds to support programs and priorities of the Jewish social service network, benefiting the entire Commonwealth. The conference committee led by Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues and House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz reached agreement Sunday evening lifting the total appropriation for Jewish communal priorities to upwards of $8 million, in response to the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)’s efforts on seven key priorities.

“We applaud Senate President Spilka, Speaker DeLeo, Chair Rodrigues, Chair Michlewitz and their colleagues for ensuring robust funding to lift up the Jewish communities’ priorities in this year’s budget,” said Jeremy Burton, JCRC’s Executive Director. “The legislature has demonstrated its commitment to proven programs which help people in the Jewish community and beyond to work, stay in their homes, and feel safe in their communities.  We look forward to building on this success together.”

This year, JCRC led on seven budget priorities, all of which included increases and direct appropriations to the Jewish social service network.

“This is a historic budget for the Jewish community across the Commonwealth,” said Aaron Agulnek, JCRC’s Director of Government Affairs. “The cutting-edge programming, dynamic professionals, and committed lay leadership of Jewish institutions provides the framework necessary to develop meaningful ties with elected officials to better serve the dreams of individuals and families seeking opportunity, dignity, and security.”

The budget included:

$500,000 for the Non-Profit Security Grants, a pilot which provides vital security enhancements to Jewish communal infrastructure at increased risk of threat. Senator Eric Lesser and Representative Ruth Balser, along with Senator Cynthia Creem pushed this vital $350,000 increase in funding.

$1,250,000 for the Employment Service Program for Immigrants and Refugees, which provides English-based job training and placement services for recent immigrants and refugees. This $250,000 increase was led by Senator Sal DiDomenico and Representative Michael Moran.

$500,000 for Bridges to College, which provides college preparatory programming to individuals seeking careers with opportunities for advancement and defined career ladders. The budget also included a $250,000 earmark for Jewish Vocational Service (JVS), supported by Chair Michlewitz, Senator Cindy Friedman, and Senator Joe Boncore, to expand its innovative programming.

$856,000 for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs), which is operated by Jewish Family & Children's Service, JFS Metrowest, and Jewish Family Service of Western Mass. NORCs are designed to bring wellness programs and socialization services directly to seniors, allowing them to remain in their homes and communities. This $214,000 increase was led by Senator Cynthia Creem and Representative Tommy Vitolo.

$250,000 for Transitions to Work, an innovative job training model for young adults with disabilities, modeled after the JVS/CJP partnership of the same name. This $100,000 increase was led by Senator Michael Barrett and Representative Paul Brodeur.

$2,000,000 for the Secure Jobs Initiative, a silo-busting delivery model conceived by the Fireman Family Foundation, which promotes new partnerships between housing and workforce development agencies, as well as state agencies. There are seven partnerships across the Commonwealth, including JVS and Metro Boston Housing Partnership. This $1,000,000 increase was led by Senator Michael Barrett and Representative Joe Wagner.

Continuity funding for the MA Pathways to Economic Advancement initiative, the nation’s first workforce development Pay for Success program. The model is working; nearly 2,000 participants have enrolled, increasing their job skills and take-home earnings, which is increasing revenue for the Commonwealth. The initial funding period for Pathways is ending and these funds, close to $3 million, will sustain innovation by continuing to support this model while measuring results.

The JCRC urges Governor Baker to sign the budget and support these crucial initiatives.

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.

# # #

JCRC Leads MA Labor Leaders on Study Tour of Israel

(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 www.jcrcboston.org.

# # #

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

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

JCRC Applauds MA Senate for Unanimous Support
of
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 www.jcrcboston.org.

# # #

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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 https://www.jcrcboston.org/events/yomhashoah2018/.

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 www.jcrcboston.org.

# # #

Over 300 from the Boston Jewish Community to Volunteer at 4th Annual MLK Day of Service

Media Advisory
January 16, 2019
Contact: Emily Reichman
617-457-8669

(BOSTON)—Over 300 members of the Jewish community will be volunteering at 11 service sites across Greater Boston at JCRC's 4th Annual MLK Day of Service on January 21st, 2019. MLK Day of Service has become a staple of JCRC’s volunteer programming and a day for families and individuals from the Jewish community to come together to honor the legacy of Dr. King.

Volunteers will be preparing meals at soup kitchens, repairing houses, revitalizing a church and a school, sorting through clothing donations, and more. One group of volunteers will be writing letters to Congress with residents of Hebrew SeniorLife in an effort to keep Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation alive for individuals from Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador.

Please visit www.jcrcboston.org/MLK for a full schedule of volunteer sites and times.

Photos are permitted at the following sites: Hebrew SeniorLife, 2Life’s Golda Meir House, Waltham Haitian Church of the Nazarene, Temple Beth Am Framingham, Temple Israel Sharon, Blackstone Elementary School, and Cradles to Crayons.

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.

# # #