Category Archives: Press Releases

JCRC Applauds the Creation of the Massachusetts-Israel Economic Connection

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 13, 2018
Contact: Shira Burns
gro.n1537353812otsob1537353812crcj@1537353812snrub1537353812s1537353812
(617) 457-8673

On August 10, 2018, Governor Baker signed legislation, created by a collaboration between Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston and state legislators, authorizing $250,000 for the facilitation and support of the Massachusetts-Israel Economic Connection operated by the New England Israel Business Council, Inc. to continue to pursue economic collaboration between Israel and the Commonwealth.

“JCRC recognizes the rich entrepreneurial and innovative culture of the state of Israel. We are grateful to our partners in the Legislature and Administration for creating the Massachusetts-Israel Economic Connection in order to capitalize off of the vast potential that the country provides,” said Aaron Agulnek, Director of Government Affairs, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. “Massachusetts possesses a devoted workforce, premier colleges and universities, and cutting-edge life science and hi-tech sectors, making it a natural home for Israeli founded businesses. Other states and municipalities, however, are taking aggressive action to cut into our competitive edge. This initiative will help expand the collaborations and keep Mass at the top.”

“We are grateful that JCRC led the efforts with the Legislature to support the Massachusetts-Israel Economic Connection,” said Dan Trajman, CEO of the New England Israel Business Council, Inc. (NEIBC). “The more than 9000 jobs created by Israeli-related companies in Massachusetts are a testament to NEIBC’s mission. With the legislature and governor’s support, we will expand Israeli business presence, despite the mounting competition, by helping local companies increase their footprint and ensuring that new companies will choose Massachusetts as their US base of operations.”

“There are more than 200 Israeli-founded businesses in the Boston area alone, creating thousands of high-paying jobs in our life sciences and IT industries. These connections also create opportunities for Massachusetts companies to expand their operations to Israel. Strengthening our state’s economic ties with Israel strengthens opportunities for our businesses and our workers, and this is something we wanted to continue to encourage in the Economic Development Bill,” said Senator Eric P. Lesser, Senate Chairman of the Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, who authored the bill.

As competition for US/Israeli relationships continues to grow, this initiative promotes Massachusetts as the right home for Israeli businesses. A 2016 study showed that Israeli-founded business in the Commonwealth book over $9 billion of revenue and generate over $18 billion in economic benefit in Massachusetts. They also support over 27,000 jobs in Massachusetts.

“It is so important for Massachusetts to encourage the continued economic relationship with Israeli companies,” said Senator Cynthia Stone Creem, Senate Majority Leader. “It will help solidify our state’s reputation in the high tech and biotech fields as we support research and development opportunities.”

The Massachusetts-Israel Economic Connection initiative will focus on deepening ties between Israeli entrepreneurs and the Massachusetts ecosystem through travel, exchange, relationship development, and job creation.

“I am grateful that the Massachusetts Legislature has successfully included the Massachusetts-Israel Economic Connection in the Economic Development Bill,” said Representative Ruth Balser. “Economic collaboration with Israel has proven time and again to be a great resource to both the economy and the people of Massachusetts. The synergy between the Massachusetts and Israeli economy is clear and this initiative will help to develop the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

The Massachusetts-Israel Economic Connection will promote Massachusetts as the right home for Israeli businesses, utilize the NEIBC’s deep roots in the Massachusetts and Israeli business sectors and academic infrastructure to partner with regional public, quasi-public, and private organizations dedicated to economic development in emerging industries.

"Massachusetts' economy has thrived because our state's policy and business leaders have made a strategic effort to foster key global partnerships," said Representative Antonio F. D. Cabral. "This investment in the Massachusetts-Israel Economic Connection will enhance this dynamic and allow for further growth in areas such as cybersecurity and the life sciences industry."

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JCRC of Greater Boston to Rededicate New England Holocaust Memorial at Annual Yom HaShoah Commemoration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 30, 2018
Contact: Shira Burns
gro.n1537353812otsob1537353812crcj@1537353812snrub1537353812s1537353812
(617) 457-8673

(Boston, MA) - To honor local survivors of the Holocaust and to pay tribute to those who perished, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) and its partners will present Rededication to Resiliency, a community commemoration of Yom HaShoah, on Sunday, June 10th, 10:30 am, at Faneuil Hall in Boston. This annual commemoration convenes the Greater Boston community to honor survivors and ensures that future generations remember their stories. This past summer, in two separate acts of vandalism ominously reminiscent of Kristallnacht almost 80 years ago, two of the iconic glass panels of the New England Holocaust Memorial were shattered. “Our entire city was affected,” said Mayor Marty Walsh of the vandalism. “This memorial stands as a symbol of democracy and freedom and that we will not forget what happened during the Holocaust. It’s our duty as a city to spread that message.”

The commemoration will feature a rededication of the New England Holocaust Memorial in a symbolic gesture of our community’s resilience and perseverance, as well as the student winners of the 12th annual Israel Arbeiter Holocaust Essay Contest. Rabbi Alan Turetz of Temple Emeth in Chestnut Hill will speak about his experience as a second-generation Holocaust survivor, and Esther Adler, who survived Kristallnacht, will share her reflections on witnessing the tragic and historic event.

Rededication to Resiliency is presented in partnership with the American Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants of Greater Boston, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, 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

Rabbi Alan Turetz, Second-Generation Survivor
Rabbi Turetz has enriched Temple Emeth as its spiritual leader since 1977. Graduating as valedictorian of his class from Adelphi University, he received his master's degree in Hebrew Literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, where his rabbinic ordination was conferred with high honors. He subsequently received an Honorary Doctorate from the Seminary as well. During his more than thirty years on the bimah at Temple Emeth, Rabbi Turetz has been an inspirational and highly esteemed leader of Boston’s Jewish community. He has served as president of both the New England Region of the Rabbinical Assembly and the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis, as Rabbi for the New England Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, and has chaired the New England Rabbinic Cabinet for Israel Bonds. His incomparable sermons and mellifluous voice, whether for Shabbat or holiday services, are not to be missed.

Esther Adler, Survivor Testimony
Esther Adler was educated in Germany, Israel, and the United States. She graduated from the Teachers Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary of New York and taught for many years at the Midway Jewish Center Hebrew School on Long Island. In 1981, she was invited to join the Department of Education of the Jewish National Fund as its Pedagogic Coordinator. She held this position full time until 1987 and until 1997 as part time consultant based in Florida. Esther is the coordinator of the recently established Holocaust Learning Center of Temple Torah and has compiled and published the stories of survivors. In 2014, she published a collection of poems, "Nature Eternal," and in July 2017 she published "Best Friends: A Bond That Survived Hitler," a novel based partly on her life. She is featured in the documentary "We are Jews from Breslau," which was sponsored by the German and Polish Government. Esther Adler enjoys an active life at Orchard Cove, a Hebrew SeniorLife retirement community in Canton, where she continues to write poetry, teach Hebrew and Yiddish classes, and lecture regionally and internationally about the Shoah.

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.


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Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer to Speak at JCRC Annual Birnbaum Lecture

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 27, 2018

Contact: Shira Burns

(617) 457-8673

 

Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer to Speak at JCRC Annual Birnbaum Lecture

(Boston, MA) – The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) welcomes Ron Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, to deliver the 15th Annual Connie Spear Birnbaum Memorial Lecture on Monday, May 7, 2018 at Temple Reyim in Newton. Ambassador Dermer will speak on the topic, “The Challenges Facing Israel Today.”

“It is our great honor – as JCRC and as the organized Jewish community of Boston – to host the State of Israel’s highest representative to the United States, His Excellency Ambassador Ron Dermer. This lecture is appropriately named for a woman who, upon her untimely passing from breast cancer at age 48, became a symbol of Jewish unity and the inspiration for an annual program which is intended to gather individuals from across the ideological and religious spectrum of Jewish life,” stated Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of JCRC. “Ambassador Dermer will address the challenges facing Israel today; a timely topic in this season when we join with Israel in celebrating the 70th anniversary of the re-establishment of the state of the Jewish people in its modern form. We look forward to hearing from the Ambassador, to him addressing our questions, and to his informing and enriching our conversation as we continue to work together as a diverse and yet unified community.” To learn more and RSVP, visit https://www.jcrcboston.org/events/cbl2018. Pre-registration is required.

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.

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JCRC and MAJF Legislative Reception Attended by Baker, Polito, Healey, Goldberg

(Boston, MA) – On Monday, March 19, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) and the Massachusetts Association of Jewish Federations (MAJF) were joined by over 200 legislators, volunteers, community partners, and allies at our annual Legislative Reception at the State House to honor Attorney General Maura Healey, Senator Eric Lesser, House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sánchez, and Governor Baker’s legal counsel Lon Povich. Speakers at the event included Governor Charlie Baker, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem, and Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka. For more photos, video clips, and other quotes, visit jcrcboston.org/events/legislative-reception-2018/.

“In politics, as in life, it is rare to get a room full of people agreeing on anything, but through our honorees, these leaders and our network of partners, a tableau of our communal values and priorities was eloquently presented. For those who read my messages so diligently each week, you already know about our work supporting immigrants and refugees, endorsing economic opportunity, demanding gun violence prevention and criminal justice reform, and promoting a strong Israel/Massachusetts relationship. However, while it is one thing hearing it from me, it is quite another to hear it straight from the podium by these leaders framed by the JCRC banner, where speaker after speaker emphasized these very values,” stated Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of JCRC.

Quotes from our Speakers:
“[During my first trip to Israel,] I was taught the Hebrew word for leadership has the same root as verbs like driving and mobilizing. And that is what I think about when I think about leadership and JCRC. The force that you have been for so long on so many important issues, whether it was supporting young people for promoting community service, advancing social justice, combating discrimination, reducing violence in all its forms, and working to protect our immigrant communities… I appreciate all that you have done to stand up for those who are vulnerable, always, those who are voiceless, often.”
Attorney General Maura Healey

“… As is often the case, until you actually stand [at the Western Wall] and have a chance to put your hands on it and to get a sense of how it breathes and the power of what it represents, I don’t think you can truly appreciate it… And I think that for me while this trip was about democracy and innovation and partnerships and all the rest, in that particular moment it was about faith and freedom and the opportunity to practice what for many people in many respects in the most important piece of which they identify themselves. And for the first time I really understood why having access to that Wall was so important to the Jewish community and to Israel.” – Governor Charlie Baker

“Throughout my speakership, I have known the JCRC to be politically engaged and active on many of the issues that are so important to me. It is a true honor for me to work side by side to make the Commonwealth a better place to live. Whether it is addressing gun violence, ending homelessness, combating and helping our seniors, it is has been my honor to work with JCRC every step of the way. With your input we have made significant strides in many of these areas.” – Speaker of the House, Robert DeLeo

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.

About the Massachusetts Association of Jewish Federations
MAJF is a statewide government affairs office that works to strengthen the relationship between the Jewish community and elected officials.

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JCRC and MAJF to Honor Four Remarkable Public Servants at State House Reception

(Boston, MA) - The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) and the Massachusetts Association of Jewish Federations (MAJF) will honor four dedicated public officials at the 20th Annual Legislative Reception on Monday, March 19 at the Massachusetts State House. To learn more and RSVP, visit jcrcboston.org/events/legislative-reception-2018/.

“We are honored to be presenting awards to four remarkable public servants who recognize that during times of great challenge, we must unite in our commitment to act on an urgent agenda; from civil rights to human services, economic opportunity to safety and security, supporting the vibrant MA-Israel partnership, and the protection of democratic values,” stated Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of JCRC. “A well-functioning society and a responsive government would not be possible without outstanding public servants like these four individuals, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Senator Eric Lesser, Representative Jeff Sánchez, and General Counsel to Governor Baker Lon Povich.”

Governor Charles Baker, Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo, and Senate Majority Leader Cynthia Creem will be in attendance to congratulate the awardees.

This annual Legislative Reception celebrates the contributions of JCRC and MAJF’s partners in government, advocacy and the community. Awardees are chosen based on their leadership and contributions to our shared priorities. The annual JCRC Legislative Reception is the premier opportunity for leadership of the Jewish community to interact and develop relationships with state public officials, including members of the administration and the legislature.

“We are very pleased to recognize the work of our community’s partners in government who have allied with us to build a more just and inclusive Commonwealth,” commented Reception co-chairs Lisa Danetz and Eitan Milgram.

Sponsors for this year’s event are The Patriots Foundation and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

This year’s award recipients are:

  • Attorney General Maura Healey, Massachusetts, to be presented with the Excellence in Leadership Award
  • Senator Eric P. Lesser, First Hampden and Hampshire; Co-chair, Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies, to be presented with the Legislative Leadership Award
  • Representative Jeffrey Sánchez, 5th Suffolk; Chair, House Committee on Ways and Means, to be presented with the Legislative Leadership Award
  • Lon Povich, Chief Legal Counsel to Governor Baker, to be presented with the Executive Leadership Award

Click here to view the Award Recipients’ bios.

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.

About The Massachusetts Association of Jewish Federations
MAJF is a statewide government affairs office that works to strengthen the relationship between the Jewish community and elected officials.
 

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JCRC & State Senate Push for Security Funding

JCRC applauds the Massachusetts State Senate for approving a $75,000 pilot program for physical security enhancements and target hardening at nonprofit and religious institutions throughout the Commonwealth determined to be at high risk for terrorist attack.

This initiative is modeled after the federal Non Profit Security Grant program, which is currently limited to nine municipalities in the Boston area, and fills the gap by providing opportunities for vulnerable institutions throughout the Commonwealth which are geographically excluded from that federal program.

“Over the last year, we have all witnessed an increase in hate crimes and threats directed towards the Jewish community and other populations throughout the entirety of the Commonwealth” said Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council. “We are grateful to Representative Lori Ehrlich for championing this in the House and to Senator Chandler and her colleagues in the Senate for recognizing that terror knows no borders and for taking this first step to ensure that people in Newton, Worcester, Springfield and beyond have the opportunity resources to keep their vulnerable populations feeling secure.”

This new program, sponsored by Senator Harriette Chandler and supported by Senator Michael Moore, Senator Eric Lesser and Senator Cynthia Creem would mirror the federal program, but is open to the communities excluded based upon their geography.  Following the federal program, institutions would be responsible for the cost of their risk assessments. After completing the risk assessment, they would apply to the grant program and be ranked based on their likelihood of risk and current vulnerability. The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security would then be tasked with determining which institutions are most in need of the funds and would award the grants.

“Sadly, we are seeing a wave of intolerance and threats in Massachusetts against ethnic and religious minority groups,” said MA Senate Majority Leader Harriette L. Chandler.  “We’ve seen threats against our mosques and against immigrants, even community organizations that serve vulnerable populations.  I believe this funding is critical to ensure that our communities remain a welcoming and safe place for all of our residents.”

“No child should have to fear going to school or going to pray at a place of worship. While it is my sincere hope — and my belief — that our American values and the human values of tolerance and respect and dignity for every human being will win out in the end, we must take steps to protect our vulnerable and targeted populations,” said Senator Eric Lesser.

“We must not let terror and hate interfere with our liberties and free exercise of religion,” said Senator Creem. “I am pleased the State Senate is funding prudent action to protect our institutions from those who intend to do harm.”

The initiative, included in the State Senate’s budget proposal will become part of the debate as leaders from the House of Representatives and State Senate negotiate the final budget for the Governor’s approval.

Massachusetts Jewish Organizations Thank Legislators For Their Support Regarding “An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination”

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BOSTON (April 20, 2016) — Yesterday, representatives of KeshetADL, the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston presented letters thanking Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo for their longstanding support of “An Act Relative to Transgender Anti-Discrimination,” and urging swift action to pass this critical legislation.

Senate President Stan Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo were also given a list of Jewish leaders and individuals, from across the Commonwealth and the United States. The signatories believe that the Jewish tradition affirms all people and that respecting all human dignity is the foundation of a just society.

Transgender people in Massachusetts cannot afford to wait any longer to be sure they can access public accommodations without fear of discrimination, harassment, and violence. Opponents of the legislation assert a supposed threat of transgender people in restrooms and locker rooms; however, but the reality in states, municipalities, and schools with similar legislation or policies proves this assertion to be is unfounded.

We thank Senate President Stan Rosenberg, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and the bill’s sponsors in the House and Senate, for their support of the transgender community in Massachusetts. It is past time that Massachusetts ensures the full dignity and safety of transgender people.

Seventeen school districts serving 600,000 students across the country reported no problems after implementing transgender-inclusive policies. These policies are aligned with the US Department of Education’s guidelines issued in April, 2014, clarifying that transgender students are protected under Title IX.

Conversely, transgender people are at a great risk of violence and harassment in public facilities, including bathrooms and locker rooms. According to recent research published by The Fenway Institute, 65% of transgender people surveyed in Massachusetts experienced discrimination in public accommodations, including verbal and physical harassment or assault.

The petition text is viewable at www.keshetonline.org/work/petition-in-support-of-full-transgender-rights-in-massachusetts/support-transgender-rights-in-ma/. A list of signatories to the petition can be seen atwww.keshetonline.org/work/petition-in-support-of-full-transgender-rights-in-massachusetts/.

Selected photos can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/keshet/albums/72157666821271260.

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Keshet is a national organization that works for full LGBTQ equality and inclusion in Jewish life. Led and supported by LGBTQ Jews and straight allies, Keshet cultivates the spirit and practice of inclusion in all parts of the Jewish community. Our work is guided by a vision of a world in which all Jewish organizations and communities are strengthened by LGBTQ-inclusive policy, programming, culture and leadership, and where Jews of all sexual orientations and gender identities can live fully integrated Jewish lives.

Contact: Joanna Ware, Boston Regional Director
617.524.9227, ext. 109
gro.e1537353812nilno1537353812tehse1537353812k@ann1537353812aoj1537353812

JCRC and MAJF to Honor Women in Leadership at State House Reception

(Boston, MA) - The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) and the Massachusetts Association of Jewish Federations (MAJF) will honor Women in Leadership at the 19th Annual Legislative Reception on Thursday, February 25 at the Massachusetts State House.  To RSVP and for sponsorship/advertising opportunities, visit http://bit.ly/LegRec16.

“We are so proud to be honoring these women leaders who have worked tirelessly to promote not only issues of gender parity, but also a wide range of priorities to support social services and increase opportunities for all people,” said Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of JCRC. “This year’s honorees set the bar high with their steadfast commitment to building a more equitable and inclusive society.”

The Legislative Reception celebrates the contributions of our partners in government, advocacy and the community. Awardees are chosen based on their leadership and contributions to our shared priorities.

“We are pleased to recognize those who serve as role models of women’s achievement and who have championed policies to support gender equity,” said Reception Chairs Jesse Mermell and Fredie Kay.

Sponsors for this year’s event are Paul & Ashley Bernon and Related Beal.

This year’s honorees are:

Excellence in Leadership Award 

  • Deb Goldberg, MA State Treasurer

Legislative Leadership Award

  • Senator Karen Spilka, 2nd Middlesex & Norfolk district; Chair, Senate Ways and Means Committee
  • Representative Patricia A. Haddad, Fifth Bristol, Speaker pro Tempore

Excellence in Advocacy Award

  • Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, White House Outreach and Recruitment Director for Presidential Personnel

Honorees quotes:

"I am delighted to be honored by the JCRC and MAJF with their Excellence in Leadership Award," said Treasurer Deb Goldberg. "As Treasurer, I work every day to develop policies that promote social justice, equality, and opportunity for all."

“I am proud to work with JCRC to advocate on behalf of people across Massachusetts who often do not have a strong voice,” said Senator Karen E. Spilka. “We have made terrific progress on equality and opportunity for women, but we have more work to do to break down barriers and ensure fairness in our communities.”

"With leadership comes the responsibility to not only help to make good things happen for the common good, but to also prevent bad things from happening,” said Representative Patricia Haddad. “It is also about helping others to find their voice. I am honored to receive this recognition from JCRC.”

“I am deeply touched to be recognized by the JCRC and MAJF,” said Raffi Freedman-Gurspan. “As a Jewish woman, it is an honor to be recognized by my community for work in Massachusetts and nationally on behalf of women and LGBTQ people, especially transgender people. I am proud to be a voice for these communities at the White House.”

Honoree Bios:

State Treasurer Deb Goldberg

Treasurer Deborah B. GoldbergCurrently in her first term as State Treasurer, Deb previously served for six years on the Brookline Board of Selectmen including two years as Chairwoman. Prior to her career in public service, Deb worked in retail operations, buying and consumer affairs at The Stop & Shop Companies, Inc., a business her family grew from a small grocery store in the North End into a $1.2 billion New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) company with 50,000 employees.

Deb has worked with numerous non-profit initiatives that have empowered women, children and families. She has leveraged public-private partnerships to offer creative, high-impact policy solutions to combat societal inequity. She is the President of Adoptions with Love, a non-profit adoption agency, and also serves on the Advisory Board of the Greater Boston Food Bank. Deb was one of the Founders of Berkshire Hills Music Academy, a school for individuals with intellectual disabilities, and has been the Senate President’s appointee to the Commonwealth Covenant Fund in the Treasurer’s office since its inception.

Senator Karen E. Spilka, 2nd Middlesex and Norfolk District

Sen. Spilka Headshot 2013Senator Karen Spilka was elected to the State Senate in 2005 where she currently serves as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means overseeing the budget and finances of the Commonwealth. Previously she served notably as the Chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies and Joint Committee on Children Family and Persons with Disabilities. Senator Spilka strongly supports JCRC’s legislative agenda by promoting economic opportunity, inclusion for people with disabilities and independence for seniors.

Representative Patricia A. Haddad, 5th Bristol

Picture 001State Representative Patricia Haddad has been a member of the House since 2000 and currently serves as Speaker Pro Tempore. Representative Haddad is a prominent member of Speaker DeLeo’s leadership team, is a leader on women’s issues and a tremendous ally to JCRC. She has filed legislation to increase gender parity on corporate boards, enhance treatment for mental health patients, and improve special education.

Raffi Freedman-Gurspan, Outreach and Recruitment Director for Presidential Personnel

Raffi FGRaffi Freedman-Gurspan is an Outreach and Recruitment Director for Presidential Personnel at the White House. She is the first staff member and appointee in the Obama White House who is openly transgender. Before working at the White House, Raffi worked as a Policy Advisor at the National Center for Transgender Equality, where she coordinated the Racial and Economic Justice Initiative, focusing on social policy priorities for transgender people of color and those living in poverty.

Prior to moving to Washington, DC, Raffi worked for three years in the Massachusetts House of Representatives as a Legislative Director for former state representative Carl Sciortino. She was the first openly transgender legislative staffer to work in the Massachusetts State House, and she played an instrumental role in helping pass the 2011 Massachusetts transgender civil rights bill through the legislature.

Raffi was adopted as an infant from Intibucá, Honduras, and grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts. Her birth family is indigenous Lenca and her adoptive family is American Jewish. She simultaneously identifies as an indigenous Central American, a Latina, and as an American Jew.

 

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.

About The Massachusetts Association of Jewish Federations

MAJF is a statewide government affairs office that works to strengthen the relationship between the Jewish community and elected officials.

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JCRC of Greater Boston to Lead Study Tour of Israel

Massachusetts Community Leaders to Explore Economic Ties to Region

(BOSTON) – The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston will continue its long history of leading Massachusetts community leaders on a study tour of Israel, providing state officials with an in-depth look into the political, security, and economic challenges and successes facing Israeli society.

From December 3-13, members of the Massachusetts Senate will travel throughout Israel, learning from government officials and religious, academic, media and business leaders.

“This trip will allow Massachusetts leaders to deepen their understanding of Israel's politics and culture and examine some of the business and economic ties that bring Israel and Massachusetts together,” said Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of JCRC of Greater Boston. “The best way to deepen those ties is through a mutual understanding of our common interests.”

"Massachusetts and Israel have significant economic and cultural ties,” said Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst), who is Chair of this year’s trip. “According to a recent study by the New England-Israeli Business Council, Israeli-founded companies contributed $6 billion in direct revenue and over 6,600 jobs to the state's economy in 2012. Citizen Diplomacy, where we can learn directly from other cultures, businesses, and government officials by traveling to their country is a valuable tool in strengthening ties between Massachusetts and Israel.  I look forward to the upcoming trip to gain more firsthand knowledge about how we as legislators can continue to build our on important economic and cultural ties with our Israeli counterparts."

The Massachusetts officials will:

  • Meet with government officials and other influential leaders from all sectors of Israeli society
  • Visit Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, and the Palestinian Areas.
  • Discover the growing economic ties between Israel and Massachusetts
  • Gain new perspectives on modern day Israel
  • Develop a nuanced understanding of the complex political and security challenges facing Israel
  • Encounter Israel’s economy, including its booming research, development, and tech sector

The trip is being paid with a grant from the nonprofit Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. Participants will be paying a registration fee for the trip from their own funds.

Following are the participants in the 2015 Study Tour of Israel.

  • Senate President Stan Rosenberg (Trip Chair)
  • Senator Michael Barrett
  • Senator Eileen Donoghue
  • Senator Benjamin Downing
  • Senator Anne Gobi
  • Senator John Keenan
  • Senator Barbara L’Italien
  • Senator Richard Ross
  • Senator Karen Spilka
  • Senator Dan Wolf

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.