Category Archives: Statements

Statement from JCRC on Murder of George Floyd

We at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston are heartbroken and angered by the murder - as charged by the Hennepin County prosecutor - of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement in Minneapolis last week. We stand with the African-American community and all communities in mourning the deaths of Mr. Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others who have lost their lives simply because of the persistent racism that afflicts our nation. Here in Boston, the organized Jewish community is in deep partnership and relationship with leaders in the Black community. We are reaching out to these friends, members of the clergy, and other civic leaders to express to them our solidarity and support and to ask them what they require of us in these difficult days.

In 2017, the JCRC Council embraced a series of principles regarding criminal justice reform, including support for policies that address and confront the racial disparities in our criminal justice system. Today and every day we reaffirm our commitment to those principles and to the urgent work of advancing justice in our country.

We will continue to update here in the coming hours and days regarding events and activities that our partners are requesting our participation and solidarity in.

 

Statement on Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz Forming a Government

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, on behalf of our organized Jewish community, congratulates Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz on their success in forming a national unity government. It is noteworthy that the coalition includes 73 Members of Knesset, nearly two-thirds of the body. After months of caretaker governments, the new coalition will have greater authority to set national priorities during the COVID-19 crisis.

As we celebrate the vibrancy and strength of Israel’s democracy, JCRC reaffirms its commitment to the two-state solution, and in particular to those Israelis and Palestinians who inspire us by working together for a shared future and peaceful co-existence. JCRC will continue to support, validate, amplify, and celebrate the work of these peacebuilders who are creating the conditions on the ground that facilitate an eventual resolution to the conflict.

JCRC Statement on Voting and Elections in a Pandemic

Embedded in JCRC’s mission is the obligation to promote an American society which is democratic, pluralistic and just. In 2019 JCRC of Greater Boston adopted principles to defend democracy, including the support of policies that (1) Identify and remove barriers to and increase voter registration and voter turnout and (2) Ensure the security and sustainability of our election system infrastructure.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the inadequacies of the American voting system and exacerbated long-standing suppressive tactics in jurisdictions across the country to ensure this fundamental right. Earlier this month, Wisconsin voters and poll workers were forced to choose between their health and their fundamental right to vote. Over a century ago, the United States Supreme Court held in Yick Wo v. Hopkins that the right to vote is “a fundamental political right, because [it is] preservative of all rights.”

Time is running out for our federal, state and local governments to act now to ensure that the rights and health of voters and pollworkers are protected in the upcoming elections and that the necessary robust infrastructure is supported and funded to increase participation. The Covid-19 pandemic demands a response to meet those needs.

JCRC supports federal, state and local policies that:

  • Expand absentee voting including no-excuse absentee voting, permanent absentee voting and other increased vote by mail options;
  • Preserve in-person voting, carefully balancing the safety of poll workers and voters, and minimizing suppressive tactics.
  • Expand early voting options.

In addition, JCRC calls for immediate federal action and funding for needed support of state and local elections, implementation of these reforms, and the United States Postal Service’s capacity and solvency to meet the increased demands from the COVID-19 pandemic.

CJP, JCRC Mourn Passing of Stephan Ross, NE Holocaust Memorial Founder

Steve Ross (center) with his son Mike

It is with deep sadness we write to inform you about the loss of Steve Ross (z”l) who passed away last night. Steve’s enduring strength, humanity, and commitment to conveying the lessons of his experience in the Holocaust to all who would hear him, were a gift we will cherish always. His legacy will live on through the New England Holocaust Memorial and through the lives of all he touched. May his memory be for a blessing. The funeral will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, February 26th, at 1pm at Temple Emeth in Brookline.

Rick Mann, longtime chair of the Yom HaShoah Program and the New England Holocaust Memorial Committee, wrote this moving tribute for Steve:
 
It is with profound sadness that I write to inform you of the loss of our beloved Steve Ross.

Were it not for Steve, there were would be no NE Holocaust Memorial, pure and simple. The Memorial was Steve’s dream. His indelible, permanent message not just to New England, but to the world. It was his intent to create a sacred place of remembrance for the six million souls murdered by the Nazis, including his parents, brother and five sisters. A place to stand as a beacon of light in the darkness of the horror that was the Holocaust. A place for reflection and for learning.

He pursued his dream with a limitless passion that turned skeptics into believers and converted both secular and religious community leaders into staunch advocates.

Among those advocates was then Boston Mayor Ray Flynn who, with Steve at his side, saw to it that the Memorial would reside in one of Boston’s most visible locations, along the Freedom Trail across from Boston City Hall.

It is here that hundreds if not thousands pass every day through its six gleaming towers and, whether they know it or not, bear witness to the unfathomable perseverance of one man and his dream… Steve Ross. But what else would you expect from a man who, as an eight-year-old boy was imprisoned by the Nazis, endured five years of horror in ten different concentration camps, and survived to build a life of meaning, love and caring for others in his adopted country.

The world is diminished today with the loss of Steve Ross. But Steve’s memory and his legacy live on in his wonderful son and daughter and grandchild and in the Memorial that will serve as an everlasting symbol of remembrance for generations to come.

On a personal level, I will always cherish my years of friendship with this most unique human being. A survivor who built a life from the ashes of the Shoah, coming to this country with nothing, learning a new language, becoming a professional and devoting his career to helping  at-risk youth. But most of all, I will always recall the way he would greet me with the most effusive hug, plant a kiss on my cheek and say, "You’re a beautiful, loving man." Of course, it was Steve who was the beautiful, loving man.

May his memory be a blessing.

Marc Baker, CJP President and CEO
Jeremy Burton, JCRC Executive Director 

With Governor Baker at the rededication of the NE Holocaust Memorial

With Governor Baker at the rededication of the NE Holocaust Memorial

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With Holocaust survivors Anna and Israel Arbeiter

JCRC Statement on Non Profit Security Grant Program

The organized Jewish community welcomes the action by the Massachusetts legislature to reach an agreement on a supplementary budget for FY19. In particular we take note and express our appreciation that the legislature allocated an additional $1 million toward non-profit security grants as proposed by Governor Baker. This comes after legislative leadership, led by Senate President Karen Spilka, Senator Michael Rodrigues, Senator Eric Lesser and their colleagues in the House and Senate seeded a pilot to provide initial funds over the past three sessions.

“While the Jewish community is still reeling in the wake of what appears to be the third deadly attack on our institutions and places of gathering in this country in less than 14 months, it is commendable that our legislature has acted in support of protecting vulnerable communities,” said Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council. “This is a time of vulnerability and crisis, and a time for action. Massachusetts is joining other states in protecting non-profits that may be targets of antisemitism and violent extremism. We will continue our work with the Governor and our strong allies in the House and Senate to promote policies that combat hatred in all forms.”

CJP and JCRC Statement on Jersey City Shooting

CJP and JCRC today mourn the loss of four people killed during a prolonged shootout yesterday at the JC Kosher Supermarket in Jersey City. The victims were Leah Minda Ferencz, the store’s owner, Miguel Douglas Rodriguez, a store employee, Moshe Deutsch, who was shopping at the time, and Det. Joseph Seals, a 15-year-veteran of Jersey City’s police department. We acknowledge Detective Seals’ bravery and sacrifice. The two shooters were also killed during the firefight.

We are as devastated as we are horrified. The store is the center of a growing Jewish community in Jersey City, located next to a synagogue and yeshiva. We have reached out to the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey to offer our love and support. We pray that the families of the victims find comfort during this unimaginably painful time and we pray for the full recovery of the wounded.

In our close-knit Jewish communal world, many of us have friends and family in Jersey City. These are our brothers and sisters, our friends, our family, and our children.

An investigation into the motives of the shooters is ongoing. At this time, there is no indication that this incident has any direct connection to eastern Massachusetts. More information about CJP’s communal security initiatives can be found here.

May the memories of those who lost their lives be a blessing.

CJP, JCRC Stand with Israel Amid Rocket Attacks from Gaza

More than 150 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel since Tuesday morning. For the first time since 2014, schools and workplaces from Southern Israel to Tel Aviv are shuttered and citizens have been instructed to stay indoors near bomb shelters. 

Rocket attacks have been ongoing since an Israeli military strike on a senior leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Israel’s soldiers and citizens are always in our thoughts and prayers, but even more so during difficult times. CJP and JCRC stand in solidarity with the people of Israel and reaffirm the right of the state to defend itself. 

Our hearts are with the hundreds of thousands of people in harm’s way. We pray for their safety and a speedy end to the escalation in violence. 

CJP, JCRC Condemn Synagogue Attack in Germany

CJP, JCRC, and Greater Boston’s Jewish community are filled with grief for the victims of a brazen attack on a synagogue in Halle, Germany. Timed to occur during Yom Kippur, one of the holiest and most solemn days on the Jewish calendar, the attack came as dozens of worshippers were inside the synagogue. More lives would have been lost if not for the secured doors of the building.

We join with the global Jewish community and the people of Germany in condemning the attack and in offering prayers for the victims and their families.

The aim of the attacker was made clear by statements leading up to and during the shooting and echoed the words used by terrorists and extremists who attacked synagogues and houses of worship from Poway to Pittsburgh to Christchurch.  Antisemitism and the ideology of hatred in its many forms are antithetical to our faith and an affront to humanity. We share with Jews and other minority groups around the world deep concerns over rising antisemitism, xenophobia, and racism in Germany, throughout Europe, and around the world.

For the victims, we will mourn. For the living, we will continue to fight for a better, more just world.

We pray for the recovery of the injured and hope that the families of those we lost find comfort in their sadness.

CJP and JCRC Express Concern over Incidents at Local Chabads

CJP and JCRC are deeply troubled by three incidents of attempted arson at two Chabad houses this week – one in Arlington and another in Needham. The suspects in both cases remain at large, and police are seeking assistance from the public in identifying one man seen on the Chabad Center for Jewish Life of Arlington/Belmont property – also the residence of the rabbi and his family – just after the first fire was set on Saturday night.

We have been in close contact with the rabbis at both the Arlington Chabad house and the Chabad Jewish Center in Needham, as well as local law enforcement, who have been extremely responsive and supportive. Additional patrols have been provided for the safety of the residents and congregants and state and federal officials are leading the investigation into the suspicious fires at both facilities.

CJP and JCRC appreciate the response from neighbors and local officials, who have stood with and rallied behind the Jewish communities in both towns as soon as they learned of the incidents.

Along with our partners at the ADL, we have been reaching out to Chabad houses across Greater Boston in recent days to discuss the incidents and to work together to boost security at facilities while ensuring a welcoming space to gather and worship.

Through the JEMS (Jewish Emergency Management System) program, supported by CJP, JCRC, the ADL, and the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts, Jewish institutions can learn about security best practices, attend in-person security trainings, and stay informed of incidents. To learn more about the program and future training sessions, visit the page.

JCRC, in particular, continues to work with partners across faith communities and across the government to combat the rise in violence and threats against the Jewish community. JCRC and its allies call upon the state government to fully fund the nonprofit security grant program and to partner with at-risk communal institutions so that they have the resources to undertake necessary security enhancements.

Arlington’s Human Rights Commission will host a solidarity gathering supporting the Chabad house on Monday night at 6 p.m. at Arlington Town Hall. More information can be found here.

As antisemitism continues to plague our region – and our world – we remain committed to raising awareness, educating people about the dangers of antisemitism, hatred, and bigotry, and proactively working with partners to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our Jewish community.