Israel & the Commonwealth
JCRC continues to organize Study Tours for elected officials and Christian clergy leaders (25 participants this year) to gain a deeper understanding of the complexities and challenges facing the country and the region beyond the oversimplified media sound bites. Participants returned inspired by what they learned and eager to share their new perspectives with their communities. In response, JCRC has enhanced our alumni engagement strategy; providing continuing education not only to our clergy alums, but also to their congregations during and after their church services.
Spotlight on Study Tour Participant Clementina Chéry
Chaplain Chéry founded the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute in 1994 after the murder of her fifteen-year-old son Louis. She is an internationally recognized expert in the field of homicide response. Chaplain Chery was part of the 2018 JCRC Christian Clergy Israel Study Tour.
What were the highlights of your experience on your recent study tour trip with JCRC?
There were many highlights of my study tour trip with JCRC, and I could never convey the full scope and complexity of daily life in Israel. Unearthing the deeply embedded layers of trauma in the region is challenging, to say the least. The individuals we met were from every side of Israeli and Palestinian society and conﬂict, all of whom sought to be recognized and valued for their humanity. These community leaders who are maintaining their focus on faith, courage, truth, and peace inspired me. Most enlightening, each conveyed messages of love for their neighbors, the importance of identity, and the power of trust, reconciliation, and forgiveness.
What were the connections between your work and the people you met with in Israel?
I felt an authentic connection with the speakers of the Parents Circle Family Forum. Those who have been personally impacted by violence are often the ones who teach that peace in the midst of conﬂict can be achieved. Many of the people we encountered on this trip shared their painful experiences. Most encouraging, they showed a commitment to transcending their own trauma narratives by initiating and directing innovative community programs. This was a familiar connection I sensed many times throughout this journey. In different parts of the world, cultures and classes notwithstanding, the work and desires of the Peace Institute and of many of the people we met are similar: treat each other with basic human dignity, reconciliation, peace, forgiveness, love, justice, and truth.
OPPOSING BDS EFFORTS IN CAMBRIDGE
In April, JCRC mobilized a broad network of member agencies, allies, and community leaders to defeat an effort to have the Cambridge City Council align the city with the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) Movement by boycotting Hewlett Packard, a company that does business in Israel. In three short weeks, we rallied support among a wide coalition across the Cambridge community, actively engaging the council members and the public, and presenting Council members with meaningful ways to advance peace through alternatives to BDS.
EFFECTIVE COMMUNITY RELATIONS ADDRESSING CHRISTIAN ANTI-ISRAEL RHETORIC
When a bishop from the Episcopal Diocese of MA stood before delegates at the denomination’s national convention in July and shared false and inflammatory accounts of Israeli violence against children, JCRC leapt into action. Drawing on relationships built over years of working together, we reached out immediately to both of the Commonwealth’s bishops. We conveyed the hurt and anger of our community about the outrageous allegations, and the damage that such unfounded claims have caused to the Jewish people throughout our history. The Diocese issued a public apology the following day. The issue, which made both local and national news, was reported in the Boston Globe with comments from JCRC Deputy Director Nahma Nadich: “The meeting allowed for the two groups to repair any rupture in our relationship. This is not the end of the conversation, but it’s a move that makes further conversation possible, even on areas where the groups disagree.”