Category Archives: Statements

Emergency Action Alert

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Dear Friends –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instructions for Speaking at Cambridge City Council:

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

Helpful Tips

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

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

Background

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

Take Action

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

Talking Points

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

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

2. The CCC Resolution is a Sham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6.  One Sided BDS Narratives Undermine Prospects for Peace

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

Statement from the JCRC of Greater Boston following Council Meeting of April 27, 2021

After a seven-month process culminating in a vote tonight, the membership of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston has rejected the petition to remove the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) from the Council. The vote was 40 to expel, 48 against (with 10 abstentions). In order for the vote to pass, JCRC bylaws required a two-thirds majority of the members present. In a separate vote, the membership adopted a resolution (below) to clarify the bylaws as to what would constitute a member organization being out of alignment with JCRC’s mission.

The vote to expel was in response to a petition filed in September 2020 by some of JCRC’s members and individuals on the Council. After the petition was filed, the Membership Committee began a comprehensive review, including numerous interviews with both the petitioners and ZOA; reviews of documents, social media posts and public comments; and analysis of our membership requirements, all in keeping with our bylaws and stated protocols. Based on the thoughtful and diligent work of the Membership Committee, the JCRC Board endorsed the recommendation of the Membership Committee not to expel ZOA and that recommendation was presented to the Council. However, as required by our bylaws, it was the Council members through the voting process, who ultimately choose the path forward.

By a vote of 66 in favor, and 10 against (with 10 abstentions), the membership voted to adopt a resolution to clarify the bylaws as to what would constitute a member organization being out of alignment with JCRC’s mission to “promote an American society which is democratic, pluralistic, and just.”

Resolution

Resolved, that the JCRC of Greater Boston endorses the definition of White Supremacy utilized by Facing History and Ourselves in their educational work and defines White Supremacy as “Systems that uphold the dominant status of white people over all other people. White supremacists believe in the superiority of white people”; And,

Resolved, that no Member Organization of JCRC, through its programs, activities or practices - or through the public leadership platforms of its executive officers - should legitimize or normalize organizations or individuals who embrace white supremacy, white nationalism or the conspiracy theories which underlie these ideologies;

Such action is not compatible with, and is in conflict with, JCRC’s mission and, from and after the date hereof, could be grounds for condemnation, including removal from the JCRC upon the determination of this Council and in accordance with JCRC’s Bylaws.

Since JCRC’s founding, we have embraced a “big tent” approach to our network – which is comprised of 40 organizations - striving to welcome all voices advancing the interests of the organized Jewish community and have been committed to representing a diversity of viewpoints.  We believe that it is possible for robust support for the US-Israel alliance, including vigorous advocacy, to thrive without embracing white supremacy and bigotry. Plainly said, we reaffirm that there will be no place for white supremacy, white nationalism, or related conspiracy theorists in our organization.

When a similar situation arose in 2019, the JCRC membership did not expel an organization which had engaged in activities many felt to be inconsistent with our mission.  JCRC’s members are committed to coming together to understand the experiences of others and to hear their perspectives, even as they differ from our own. It is only by engaging in these often very difficult dialogues that we can continue our mission of civic engagement, building bridges, and initiating partnerships to strengthen the Jewish community for all of us.

The Board of Directors and the Executive Director thank the Council for adopting the recommendations of the Membership Committee.

Message Upon the Guilty Verdict for Derek Chauvin

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston joins with our partners in welcoming the accountability that comes with the conviction of Derek Chauvin. No verdict will bring George Floyd back or make his family and friends whole for their loss. There is still much more work to do to confront systemic racism. JCRC will continue to work with our partners to advocate for systemic change including police reform, as well as advocate for changes to address disparities in health care, housing, education and employment—all must be addressed to achieve a just and fair society for all. 

We stand with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas and share its statement calling for systemic reform and solidarity. 

A Measure of Justice for George Floyd 

No murder conviction can bring George Floyd back or make his family and friends fully whole for their loss. And there is still much more work to be done to confront systemic racism. 

 April 20, 2021 

 The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), Minneapolis Jewish Federation, and St. Paul Jewish Federation strongly support the conviction of George Floyd’s killer on all three counts, including murder in the second and third degree.

While no guilty verdict can bring George Floyd back or make his family and friends fully whole for their loss or unwind the trauma inflicted on the broader African American community, we hope that today’s decision brings some measure of justice, healing, and peace to his loved ones and for all Minnesotans.

We know that the problem is not just the murderous misconduct of a few police officers. Systemic failures in law enforcement, as they are in so many areas of society, are real and harm not just communities, but good officers who are committed to doing the job with integrity and fairness.

As such, systemic solutions which include not just police accountability, but also address disparities in housing, education, employment, healthcare, and income are needed now to ensure that Minnesota is a great place to live for all its residents.

We offer our solidarity to the broader African American community, including Black Jews and Jews of color. Additionally, we pledge to be part of the difficult, but necessary work of repairing the relationship between the police and those they are entrusted to protect and serve.

Finally, we thank the members of our Minnesota National Guard for their service in protecting local communities. We do so with full appreciation that the presence of the Guard on our streets is far from ideal and traumatic to many. We hope that our fellow Minnesotans will come to know the Guard as we know them, neighbors who share our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and service.  

Photo: The makeshift memorial and mural outside Cup Foods where George Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer on Sunday, May 31, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times/TNS) 

An Attack on Our Democracy: Statement from JCRC of Greater Boston

Today is a sad day for our nation. The U.S. Capitol was overrun by rioters who, for a short while, disrupted the function of our democratic process of transition. This interference with the tallying of the Electoral vote is an assault on the very foundations of our democracy, unprecedented in our nation’s history.
 
Guided by our mission to “promote an American society which is democratic, pluralistic and just,” JCRC has affirmed and recommitted ourselves to preserving and restoring America’s democratic norms during the last several years. Ensuring that our democracy is and remains well-functioning and, specifically, securing the integrity of our elections systems, has never been more urgent than it is today. For this reason, JCRC cannot remain silent in the face of this violent insurrection.
 
JCRC stands with our Council member the ADL in affirming that “people assaulting law enforcement or breaching government buildings must be arrested and held accountable.” JCRC also condemns all assaults on the democratic transfer of power, including those by President Trump who, as David Harris, the CEO of our Council member AJC states has “undermined democratic values by a refusal to accept the election results” and “encouraged folks to reject a peaceful transition of power.”
 
We echo the words of Governor Baker today, who said that “the chaos now unfolding is the sad but predictable outcome of weeks of attacks perpetrated by President Trump and his supporters against the democratic process that makes America the greatest nation on earth. These baseless challenges to President-elect Biden’s victory must stop.”
 
We pray for the safety of those law enforcement members trying to maintain order and keep the peace amid the chaos, for the members of the press who are on Capitol Hill today, for the residents of the District of Columbia, and for the elected representatives, their staff, and specifically for our Massachusetts delegation, who are trying to do their democratic duty at the Capitol today.

JCRC Thanks Speaker DeLeo for Years of Leadership

The Jewish Community Relations Council recognizes House Speaker Robert DeLeo on the occasion of his resignation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The Speaker and his exemplary staff always had an open door to the Jewish community. He was as comfortable in Jewish spaces as he was in his community of Winthrop, which he represented for almost 30 years. He was always the first to convene the House membership in recognition of Holocaust remembrance and stood with his members in strongly condemning antisemitism. As soon as news broke about the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the Speaker reached out to our community and joined with civil, religious, and elected leaders on the Boston Common in denouncing this act of hatred.

At the JCRC legislative reception in 2018, Speaker DeLeo spoke about his work with the JCRC: “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...Whether it is addressing gun violence, ending homelessness, combating domestic violence 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 DeLeo was a strong partner to our community as Massachusetts climbed out of the Great Recession in 2009. He was a strong proponent of Jewish communal initiatives focusing on economic opportunity and worked hand-in-hand with us to provide jobs for immigrants and refugees, adults with disabilities, and those with housing insecurity. He was also a champion of the Mass/Israel Economic Partnership, recognizing the importance of investment and relationship. In 2013, he led a delegation to Israel with JCRC to witness the fruits of that work first hand.

“It is with mixed emotions that I recognize my dear friend Speaker Robert DeLeo on the occasion of his announced retirement from the House of Representatives,” said Jeremy Burton, Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council. “The Speaker has stood with the Jewish community during times of celebration and times of deep mourning, and never stopped working with us to improve the lives of the residents in Massachusetts. On behalf of the JCRC, I wish the Speaker the best for this next chapter of his life.”

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Speaker DeLeo stands with the Jewish community at our vigil for victims of the Tree of Life Shooting.

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Speaker DeLeo visits Rambam Hospital in Haifa on a JCRC Study Tour

JCRC Applauds Senate for Crucial Funding in Budget and Legislature for Protecting Reproductive Rights

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) welcomes the Senate budget, which maintains funding for the crucial services and programs long championed by our community. JCRC’s budget advocacy has long been focused on securing funds prioritized by Jewish communal social service partners for critical human services. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has put a financial crunch on service providers throughout the Jewish and broader community. The public resources supported through this funding will allow continuation of these vital and innovative initiatives. Some highlights include:

  • A Summer Camp Stabilization Fund would be created to help provide a safety net for summer camps, many of whom are at serious financial risk as a result of the covid-19 pandemic.
  • $856K for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs), designed to bring wellness programs and socialization services directly to seniors, allowing them to remain in their homes and communities.
  • $250K for Transitions to Work, an innovative job training model for young adults with disabilities.
  • $3 million for 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. This represents a $1 million increase over last year.
  • $1 million for Non Profit Security Grants, which provides vital security enhancements to non-profit communal infrastructure at increased risk of threat.
  • $1.25 million for the Employment Service Program for Immigrants and Refugees, which provides English-based job training and placement services for recent immigrants and refugees.
  • Crucial authorizing language 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. This language will ensure that contracted funds continue to flow to sustain this initiative.

“We applaud Senate President Karen Spilka, Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues and the entire Senate for redoubling their commitment to the social safety net, stretched thin by the COVID-19 pandemic and its destructive impact.” said Aaron Agulnek, Director of Government Affairs, JCRC. “This budget includes funding that can keep seniors safe in their homes, train job seekers for a more robust recovery and provides access to supports for the housing insecure.”

JCRC also applauds legislative leadership, lead sponsors Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler, Speaker Pro Tempore Pat Haddad, Representative Claire Cronin and Representative Jay Livingstone, and the bipartisan coalition of legislators who joined with thousands of advocates across the Commonwealth to enshrine reproductive rights in state law. Crucial elements of the Roe Act were included in both the House and Senate budgets and passed with wide majorities.

“We commend the historic vote by both the House and Senate to protect reproductive rights across the Commonwealth,” said Emily Levine, Chair, Public Policy Committee, JCRC. “Reproductive rights are human rights and these healthcare decisions should be made between pregnant people, their doctors and anyone else that they choose. We look forward to this bill being signed into law in the near term.”

The Fiscal Year 2021 budget will be reconciled by both the House and Senate and sent to Governor Baker for his approval.

Statement on Victory of President-Elect Biden

On behalf of the organized Jewish community of Greater Boston, we join with millions of Americans in congratulating former Vice-President Joseph Biden upon his election as the next President of the United States.

We also congratulate Senator Kamala Harris on her historic election as our next Vice-President. This is a moment that has been generations in the making and is one that will inspire generations to come. This is cause for celebration and recognition by all Americans.

As our nation prepares for a new President, we urge public officials and civic leaders to cooperate to ensure a peaceful and orderly transition of executive power. We pray that our next President will lead with wisdom and empathy as well as a commitment to the welfare of everyone in our great nation. We affirm our continued commitment to work with our elected and appointed officials to advance and protect the values we cherish and that define our nation.

Even as we congratulate our President-Elect and Vice President-Elect and all of our newly elected public servants, we acknowledge that this is a time of great pain and challenge for our nation. A pandemic continues to rage in our midst; more than 230,000 Americans are dead; millions are infected with COVID; and millions of Americans are out of work. These losses and hardships are profound and touch every corner of America—leaving a grief and pain that will not be easily overcome. We at JCRC affirm our commitment to work with our civic and government partners to help end the pandemic and build a recovery that is equitable and just for all Americans.

We will continue to defend and strengthen our democracy by supporting efforts to safeguard voting for all Americans including working for the passage of a new Voting Rights Act. We urge the next Congress to take immediate action to restore and strengthen the guardrails for the ethical behavior of all officials and to restore proper oversight of the Executive Branch.

We must continue to be vigilant in the face of enduring hatreds and bigotries that remain a threat and will not easily fade. We urge all public leaders to use their platform, voice and power to combat antisemitism in all its forms without regard for partisan interests, and to finally and comprehensively address the racial inequities that plague our society.  Now is also the time for comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for our neighbors who are already here. We must restore our nation’s commitment to welcoming refugees fleeing hardship and persecution.

We will continue working with the Massachusetts Congressional delegation in support of a foreign policy that restores the bipartisan principle that the United States is resolute in its historical international commitments and responsibilities around the world.  As a world leader, America must continue to be steadfast in our support for the enduring US-Israel alliance and we must reaffirm our support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to be negotiated between the parties. In support of achieving such a peace, the United States must expand our efforts to invest in the building of a healthy civil society and expanding peace and reconciliation work in the region.

We are now called to begin the difficult work of healing the wounds that have pulled our nation asunder.  We are called to continue promoting and strengthening our nation’s commitment to civil liberties and equality for all people.  We are called to be the beacon of democracy and justice that this moment demands and all Americans deserve.

We lift up, take heed of, and are inspired by the words of President-Elect Biden a few weeks ago:   

“We must free ourselves from the forces of darkness, from the forces of division, and the forces of yesterday, and the forces that pull us apart, hold us down, and hold us back. And if we do so, we’ll once more become one nation under God, indivisible, a nation united, a nation strengthened, a nation healed. That is my goal. That is why I’m running. That is what we must do.”

In this moment, the words of President Lincoln, in his first inaugural address, still resonate:  

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

The organized Jewish community of Boston echoes these words and affirms our commitment to stand together with our neighbors to meet the challenges ahead. We must come together as a nation in a spirit of reconciliation and reaffirmation of our common destiny so  we can move forward together.

Jeremy Burton, Executive Director                   

Stacey Bloom, President

JCRC Applauds House Proposal for Crucial Funding in Budget

Earlier today, the Massachusetts House of Representatives released its Fiscal Year 2021 budget blueprint, setting up debate for next week. This budget proposal, typically debated through the Spring, was delayed as state leaders assessed the needs emerging from Covid-19 and the resulting economic crisis. The Jewish Community Relations Council welcomes this budget, which maintains funding for the crucial services and programs long championed by our community. Some highlights include:

  • $856K for Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs), designed to bring wellness programs and socialization services directly to seniors, allowing them to remain in their homes and communities.
     
  • $500K for Bridges to Colleges, which provides college preparatory programming to individuals seeking careers with opportunities for advancement and defined career ladders (includes a $250K appropriation for Jewish Vocational Service).
     
  • $250K for Transitions to Work, an innovative job training model for young adults with disabilities.
     
  • $2 million for 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.
     
  • $1 million for Non Profit Security Grants, which provides vital security enhancements to non-profit communal infrastructure at increased risk of threat.
     
  • $1.25 million for the Employment Service Program for Immigrants and Refugees, which provides English-based job training and placement services for recent immigrants and refugees.
     
  • Crucial authorizing language 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. This language will insure that contracted funds continue to flow to sustain this initiative.

“We applaud Speaker Robert DeLeo, Chair Aaron Michlewitz and the entire House membership for their leadership in navigating the unprecedented demands on the social safety net, with investments in the types of programs that can help us heal,” said Aaron Agulnek, Director of Government Affairs, JCRC. “This historic budget includes funding that can keep seniors safe in their homes, train job seekers for a more robust recovery and help those who are housing insecure access the supports they need.”

The House will debate this budget next week before the Senate releases its own budget proposal.
 

Election Preparedness Strategies Guide for Houses of Worship

From the Massachusetts Council of Churches, Black Ministerial Alliance, Jewish Community Relations Council and Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center:

We know this election season is a time of increasing anxiety. Religious leaders in Massachusetts are working with civic leaders to be prepared for safe and secure voting, the free exercise of first amendment rights, and safety for vulnerable communities. We are also planning for potential protests, if the current President wins or loses. We aim to be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. We hope these preparations are unnecessary. And, we know that there have been increases in hate crimes against certain targeted communities, including Black churches, immigrants, women, Muslims, Jews and LGBTQIA peoples, as white supremacists have felt emboldened to act out. To ensure the safety of all people in the Commonwealth, and to prioritize the security of vulnerable communities, we recommend religious leaders across the state consider these recommendations:  

1. ENCOURAGE EARLY VOTING:

As religious leaders are often trusted sources in our communities, use your authority to encourage your people to vote early. Early voting by mail is good, early voting in person is better. The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is Tues Oct 28. Early in-person voting helps minimize large crowds on Election Day Tuesday Nov 3. Find your early voting date and location on the MA Secretary of State’s website here. Any questions, call 1-800-462-VOTE (8683). Every Massachusetts resident should be able to cast their ballot. If you experience trouble voting, Common Cause’s non-partisan election protection hotline is 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).

2. CREDIBLE COMMUNICATION:

We know that news moves quickly, and false rumors spread easily. Do not share information that you cannot verify from a trusted source. If there is a need for solidarity in body or in prayer, make sure that you are following the directions from trusted leaders. In the event that a particular community is targeted, do not step in unless you are asked to do so. Through the week prior and following the election, the Massachusetts Council of Churches, Black Ministerial Alliance, Jewish Community Relations Council and Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center will put out requests, if needs arise. Keep an eye on these social media accounts. If you have a need, contact one of these four organizations.

3. PLAN IN THE EVENT OF PROTEST:

We know that not all communities experience increased police presence as a sign of safety. We know that not all clergy are called to, or are able to, place their bodies in the streets if protests arise. We know not all protesters receive clergy presence as a sign of peace. And, we’ve seen that the visible presence of religious leadership can calm down tense and potentially violence escalation.
 
For those who are called to this work, we ask that you prepare yourself. Training for clergy on de-escalation will be offered online on Friday October 30, 10-12pm.
Pre-registration is required here.

BE WISE AND BE CAREFUL

In the days ahead, use good judgement. Keep your eyes open. If you see something suspicious, each municipality generally has a police tip line (In Boston, call 1-800-494-TIPS). Keep your eyes open for anything that looks out of sorts. Report anything that’s not right. If you serve a community that may be targeted, contact your local police department now to establish or re-establish a point of contact. Update your House of Worship’s safety plans, if you have one.
 
This is the terrible reality of increasing antisemitism, anti-Black racism, xenophobia, homophobic and misogynistic white supremacist violence; houses of worship are often targeted. If your house of worship experiences an incident of bias or hate, please also consider reporting to the Anti-Defamation League.
 
We care more for bodies than buildings, and the desecration of sacred spaces is a real possibility.
 
We pray none of this preparation is necessary. We pray for peace and justice in this land. May this plague pass over,
 
Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston & Boston Ten Point Coalition
Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
Massachusetts Council of Churches