JCRC in the News

Jewish Journal: This is a critical moment for our Jewish community. What can we do? By Rabbi Marc Baker, Jeremy Burton, and Robert Trestan. July 15, 2021.

Over the past several years we have invested millions of dollars in community security and, thanks to the local and national legislative advocacy of JCRC, Jewish Federations of North America and others, we have seen record amounts of funding allocated to nonprofit security at both the national and local levels.

Boston Herald: Letters to the editor. By Jeremy Burton. July 11, 2021.

The article “Jewish organizations bolster security following spate of antisemitic attacks,” mentioned Combined Jewish Philanthropies’ Communal Security Initiative for the Jewish community, which is a valuable source of security education, funding and training. While the article lifts up this important work being done by Jewish organizations like CJP to secure our institutions, the Jewish community cannot do it alone. Our government has a role to play, and that needs to be part of the story as well. In 2020, thanks to the leadership of many members of the legislature, $1.5 million was allocated in state funding to provide security grants for nonprofit institutions across Massachusetts. Of this funding, $800,000 enabled 31 Jewish communal organizations to keep their communities safe, and the Non-Profit Security Grant program was renewed for the current fiscal year, with another $1 million in funding for the 2021 Budget. Society as a whole has an important role to play in ensuring the First Amendment freedoms of worship and assembly for all minority and at-risk target communities, including sustaining and increasing state and federal funding for non-profit security.

JTA: Boston Jews rally together after streak of attacks in the area. By Penny Schwartz. July 6, 2021.

“The Jewish community is angry, but the Jewish community is united,” JCRC Boston’s executive director, Jeremy Burton, told the crowd. “We demand that we have the right to live. The right to walk in the street. To be visible, or not, to live our lives as Jews, fully and without fear.”

WBUR: Suffolk DA Rollins Investigating Brighton Rabbi Stabbing As Possible Hate Crime. By Quincy Walters and Jack Mitchell. July 2, 2021.

Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston, said he had a clear message to express: "The Jewish community is angry. And the Jewish community is united." "At a time of rising violence and anti-Semitism across this country, no Jew, no building, no part of our community, no neighborhood will stand alone," Burton said. "And we expect — we demand — that we have the right to live, to walk in the streets, to be visible or not visible as Jews, to gather together, to celebrate and to live our lives as Jews fully, with joy and without fear."

Jewish News Syndicate: After Boston Chabad rabbi stabbed, Jewish community ‘angry’ and ‘united’. By Faygie Holt. July 2, 2021.

At Friday morning’s rally, which was co-sponsored by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies and Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Boston, JCRC’s Executive Director Jeremy Burton said, “The Jewish community is angry and the Jewish community is united.” “At a time of rising violence anti-Semitism across this country no Jew, no building, no part of our community, no neighborhood will stand alone,” he said. “And we expect, we demand, that we have the right to live, to walk in the streets, to be visible…to gather together, to celebrate and to live our lives as Jews fully with joy and without fear. We look to our public and appointed officials to ensure the Jews have that ability to live and be free in this country in all the ways we have been promised and come to expect in the last 200 years.”

Boston Globe: Cardinal O’Malley expresses support for rabbi who was stabbed. By Jeremy C. Fox. July 2, 2021.

Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, expressed his gratitude to O’Malley in a tweet. “Thank you Cardinal, for these words, for your message, and your solidarity,” Burton wrote.

Boston Globe: Suspect in Brighton stabbing of rabbi held without bail as investigators search for a motive. By Andrew Brinker and Jack Lyons. July 2, 2021

“We want to send a clear message. The Jewish community is angry,” Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, said at the vigil. “We demand that we have the right to live. The right to walk in the street. To be visible, or to not be visible, as Jews.”

Jewish Journal: Boston mayoral candidates reject BDS, condemn antisemitism. By Ethan M. Forman. July 1, 2021.

Jeremy Burton, the JCRC’s executive director, said the Boston Jewish community was watching the transition of the city’s leadership “with great interest and anticipation,” as the region is home to the sixth largest Jewish community in the country with an estimated 30,000 Jews living in the Hub.

Jewish Journal: Antisemitism apparent in protest in Boston, double murder in Winthrop. Ethan M. Forman. July 1, 2021.

“Everyone has a right to protest,” said the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston on Twitter. “They do not have the right to bully and intimidate those who come to observe peacefully.”

Jewish Insider: The politically lonely progressive Zionists. Gabby Deutch. June 25, 2021.

The idea to put together a volume of essays came after Creditor saw a Times of Israel blog post authored by Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. “The American left has embraced moral maps that, while they may provide helpful frameworks for understanding some of America’s foundational and ongoing issues, warp understanding and discourse when applied to other parts of the world,” Burton wrote, in a post published the day before Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire.

JTA: This organization was supposed to unite Jews. A debate over Black Lives Matter may fuel its demise. By Ron Kampeas and Asaf Shalev. June 23, 2021.

One-size-fits-all no longer serves Jewish communities, said Jeremy Burton, the Boston JCRC director. “The issues and relationships and partnerships, and where to land on those issues in our increasingly fractured partisan, national conversation, is different for Boston than it is for Houston,” he said. JCRC officials in St. Louis, San Francisco and Minnesota had similar takes.

JNS: Massachusetts lawmaker condones Hamas, calls for single state to replace Israel. By JNS. June 9, 2021.

The statement was immediately slammed by the JCRC of Greater Boston.

“It is utterly shocking that a member of the Massachusetts Senate would elevate Hamas as a legitimate actor in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said the Jewish umbrella group.

“There can be absolutely no moral equivalence between the State of Israel—an American ally, whatever criticisms one may hold about that nation’s government—and Hamas, a designated foreign terror organization by both the United States and European Union, that is funded and supported by the regime in Iran and whose charter explicitly calls for the elimination of the State of Israel,” it continued.

Jewish Journal: Cambride City Council rejects directive aligned with BDS movement. By Ethan M. Forman. June 3, 2021.

For the second time in three years, the Cambridge City Council last month rejected a policy order to endorse the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement through a proposed embargo of Hewlett-Packard when it comes to city purchasing, said Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. Burton, a 10-year Cambridge resident, called the attempt to pass the policy order – which would set the policy of the city government – “a smokescreen for aligning Cambridge with the BDS movement.”

Jewish Telegraphic Agency: Is pro-Israel advocacy in crisis? A war exposes fault lines. By Jeremy Burton. June 3, 2021.

Jeremy Burton, who directs Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council, also said it is possible for an official to be pro-Israel and still criticize Israel. But what disturbed him more, he said, was a shift among progressives during the impassioned May 13 debate.

“They were being pro-Palestinian without being pro-Israel,” he said. “That’s the shift.”

Boston.com: Local academics, activists discuss how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is playing out in Boston. By Julia Taliesin. May 27, 2021

In an interview with Boston.com, Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, noted the incredible complexity of what’s happening in the Middle East, and said it’s hard to know where to start the conversation at any given time. “I am seeing an incredibly complex and painful situation in which people I know, people I care about — both Palestinians and Israelis — are living in fear,” he said. “That was happening over there, and here a whole bunch of people were trying to litigate the Middle East conflict in 280 characters or less through an American lens that is not applicable to the conflict. What I see is a whole bunch of people in America trying to play out their morality tales and their worldviews through a conflict they don’t understand and don’t really want to engage in the complexity of.”

JTA: Cambridge, Mass., adopts a resolution critical of Israel, while a boycott measure falls short. By Penny Schwartz. May 27, 2021

“BDS lost in a clear vote tonight in Cambridge,” Jeremy Burton, the JCRC executive director, wrote in an email. Rather than “demonize one company and one country,” Burton said Cambridge “adopted a human rights lens in contracting that applies neutrally to all countries and vendors.”

JNS: Cambridge, Massachusetts rejects BDS resolution after strong Jewish communal response. By Sean Savage. May 26, 2021

"We commend the Cambridge City Council for taking the time to hear from every one of their constituents who testified on this important matter, and greatly appreciate the outpouring of opposition to BDS that came from a diverse range of citizens and leaders in the Cambridge community,” said Jeremy Burton, Executive Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Boston. The fight against the BDS movement has grown as its proponents have become bolder, more organized, and more sophisticated than ever before. It’s up to us to remain vigilant and call out this divisive tactic whenever and wherever we see it. This was a collaborative effort and a powerful example of what we can achieve when we work together.”

Boston Globe: Cartoon on Mideast violence is dangerously devoid of context. By Marc Baker and Jeremy Burton. May 25, 2021.

The violence in the Middle East over the past weeks has been tragic. We grieve the loss of Israeli and Palestinian lives, and we support both Israelis’ and Palestinians’ rights to live with security, dignity, and peace. We were dismayed by Christopher Weyant’s May 22 editorial cartoon, another unfortunate example of an increasingly common American portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is one-sided and devoid of context. We expect more from The Boston Globe.

Jewish Insider: Meet the candidates vying to make history as Boston’s next mayor. By Gabby Deutch. May 25, 2021

“The community of Boston is in a period of transformation, and asking questions about what kind of city it wants to be going forward, both as an urban center and as the hub of a region,” said Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. In conversations with community leaders, Burton has not seen Jewish community members coalesce around a particular candidate. “To the extent that they settle on candidates, they are sort of all over the place, so nobody has emerged yet as a clear favorite candidate,” he said. In part, this has to do with the diversity of the city’s Jewish community, which Burton described as three-pronged: an Orthodox immigrant community in Brighton; a more secular, older community downtown comprised of empty-nesters; and a younger, progressive, LGBTQ-friendly community largely residing in the southern part of the city. “They are not necessarily seen as one distinct, highly visible community,” Burton noted.

Times of Israel Blogs: How an American left lens can get Israel wrong. By Jeremy Burton. May 20, 2021

The western narrative of colonialism doesn't explain this painful, lasting conflict between two indigenous peoples struggling to share one homeland.

Boston Globe: Representative Ayanna Pressley questions US aid to Israel ‘that is used to demolish Palestinian homes’ By Emma Platoff. May 14, 2021.

Boston Globe: Surge in Israeli-Palestinian violence prompts concern, calls for peace from New England. By Jeremy C. Fox and Christine Mui. May 12, 2021

Sapir Journal: Liberalism and the Common Calling of Blacks and Jews. By Jeremy Burton. May 2021.

"If President Washington’s promise still means something to American Jews, then we must strengthen the Jewish partnership with the Black community to fight against racism in all its forms, to create justice for all Americans — especially for those whose experience has not infused Washington’s words with the same hope and meaning. To do otherwise is to settle for a future in which the collective American project has been compromised and the aspirations of the Founders diminished. That would be a tragedy."

The Jewish Journal: Genocide education bills gain support after Duxbury football’s Holocaust play-calls. By Ethan M. Forman. April 22, 2021.

“We believe genocide education is an important part of the development of youth,” said Jeremy Burton, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. It applies to students’ civic awareness, moral health, and consciousness of an historical event such as the Holocaust, he said.

The Jewish Journal: On Yom HaShoah, Holocaust survivor Izzy Arbeiter: ‘Never Forget’. By Penny Schwartz. April 8, 2021.

With hate crimes on the rise, the contest “continues to be a vital learning tool,” and a “transformative process for students to learn what it means to stand up for others in the face of injustice,” Emily Reichman, JCRC’s director of community engagement, said in an email.

The Jewish Journal: Recent events make it clear: This is the time to ensure that we never forget. By Jeremy Burton. April 8, 2021.

Like so many of my generation of Jewish-Americans, I grew up with Holocaust survivors as a part of the fabric of my daily life. Both of my stepparents were hidden children. I had classmates whose parents had survived as teen slave-laborers in death camps. The twin sister of a leader in our synagogue endured horrific medical experiments at the hands of Josef Mengele, the infamous doctor of Auschwitz.

Wicked Local: Brookline Holocaust survivors to appear in commemoration broadcast. April 2, 2021.

This event is presented by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston and its partners. 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 feature recognition of the winners of JCRC’s annual Israel Arbeiter Holocaust Essay Contest for sixth through 12th grade students.

The Boston Globe: Duxbury football anti-Semitism shows need for mandatory Holocaust education, antihate groups say. By Naomi Martin. March 30, 2021

“The Jewish community feels that we have a sacred obligation to ensure those stories are told, so we never forget and it never happens again,” said Aaron Agulnek, director of governmental affairs at the Jewish Community Relations Council, a local group working with the Anti-Defamation League on the Holocaust education mandates.

The Boston Globe: A coach is fired, but now the work must begin. Letter By Jeremy Burton, Robert Leikind, and Robert Trestan, ADL New England. March 27, 2021

For members of the Jewish community, these are not casual questions. In its most recent Hate Crimes Statistics Report, the FBI reported that more than 60 percent of all religiously based hate crimes are directed at Jews and Jewish institutions, despite the fact that Jews constitute less than 2 percent of the US population. Today synagogues across our region no longer think it is safe to keep their doors unlocked and, prior to the onset of the pandemic, many synagogues felt compelled to hire security guards for times of prayer.

JTA: Bruce Springsteen’s Super Bowl ad offered a powerful vision of American unity — for Christians. By Jeremy Burton. February 2, 2021

As we imagine a renewed civic faith to carry us forward in challenging times, we need not reject who we are – neither as a whole nor in our many parts. We must, however, do a better job of understanding how our faiths may not always invite others to be included in our shared civic space. We must commit to affirming a civic faith that binds us in united purpose, in a language that honors the many faiths and traditions that are woven into the tapestry that is America.

Jewish Insider: Jewish communal leaders, aides, pay tribute to David Dinkins. By Jacob Kornbluh. November 25, 2020

Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, who worked for Dinkins at City Hall in the early ‘90s, told JI that while the handling of the riot was “very much a central part of his leadership,” it is impossible to have a “fair accounting” of his mayorship without talking about his decades-long relationships and good deeds. “There’s a lot more to the story of David Dinkins and the Jews beyond Crown Heights,” Burton stressed.

Boston Globe: Greater Boston Interfaith Organization promotes community after divisive election. By Jeremy C. Fox. November 5, 2020

Nahma Nadich, deputy director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, recalled watching John F. Kennedy debate Richard Nixon with her parents in 1960. “My parents knew that leadership matters, that good government makes for better lives for us, and that officials who are elected, who are accountable to the people who elect them, safeguard our values and protect our country,” she said. Her grandparents came to the United States fleeing religious persecution and made a good life for themselves and for Nadich’s parents, she said. “So I’ve been thinking about my parents a lot lately, and wonder if they were here what they would think of this moment in our country, and what they would make of our leaders and our government,” Nadich said. “And that fills my heart with sadness and worry. I am so sad about the degradation of our civil discourse, about the fraying of our democracy.” But seeing so many young people vote in this year’s election gave her hope, she said. Her parents would be hopeful, too, because “they lived through some unimaginably dark times," she said.

Jewish Telegraphic Agency: No matter who wins the election, American Jews fear bigotry and division will endure. By Ben Sales. November 4, 2020.

"We are an incredibly divided country, and that was something we knew before yesterday, and something we know today,” said Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Boston Jewish Community Relations Council. “There are certain people in the Jewish community who were hoping this would be a massive rejection of Trumpism, and no matter what the outcome is in the Electoral College or the Senate, this is not a massive rejection.”

MassLive: Expanding to virtual tutoring is about more than just academics for Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy. By Heather Morrison. October 1, 2020.

The Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy is expanding to include virtual learners this semester as a way to help form a community during the coronavirus pandemic. “So many students are feeling isolated and alone, disconnected from their learning and from their learning community,” said Becca Shimshak, director of Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy. “So, to us the relationship building piece is paramount, in addition to literacy tutoring.”

Everett Independent: DiDomenico Honored by the Jewish Community Relations Council and MAJF. By Independent Staff. August 18, 2020.

Jerusalem Post:
Pro-BDS congressional candidate source of concern for Massachusetts Jews
By Donna Rachel Edmunds. August 18, 2020.

“Nonetheless, “that means that it is highly likely that Democrats in the fourth will nominate someone who is not the preferred candidate of the vast majority of voters,” said Burton. “This leaves the door open to someone who doesn’t represent the mainstream of the district, whatever that is.”

Jewish Insider: Massachusetts 4th candidate Ihssane Leckey begins engaging Jewish voters By Marc Rod. August 17, 2020.

“We continue to encourage the community to do their research about the candidates, their positions and who they’ve been endorsed by before voting,” Burton said.

Jewish News Syndicate: Could a pro-BDS congressional candidate win in New England’s largest Jewish district? By Sean Savage and Jackson Richman. August 14, 2020.

Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, told JNS that the race is being closely watched the Jewish community. “The MA04 congressional race is of great interest to the Jewish community, more than the typical open seat, given that it has the largest Jewish population of any seat in New England. About 75,000 Jews live in the fourth,” he said. “That means that it is highly likely that Democrats in the fourth will nominate someone who is not the preferred candidate of the vast majority of voters,” said Burton. “This leaves the door open to someone who doesn’t represent the mainstream of the district, whatever that is.” “Seven of the nine Democrats running, and both Republicans, have participated in at least one, if not all three, of these opportunities to get their views out to the Jewish community in their own words. Two of the nine Democratic candidates, Ihssane Leckey and Chris Zannetos, have declined all three opportunities to engage with Jewish media and organizational forums and surveys,” said Burton. Burton said that he encourages all Jewish and pro-Israel voters in the district to educate themselves ahead of the vote. “We at JCRC are encouraging the community to educate themselves about the candidates, their positions, who they’ve engaged with during the campaign and who they are endorsed by,” he said. “We are encouraging everyone to self-educate—and then to get out and vote.”

MassLive: ’Never forget the lessons of the past’: Massachusetts Senate passes bill to require genocide, human rights education in middle and high schools By Heather Adams. July 31, 2020.

“We cannot simply say ‘Never Again’ if we do not also commit to educating the next generation and to by giving them the resources they need to recognize and stand up to injustice before it takes root,” said Aaron Agulnek, Director of Government Affairs for the Jewish Community Relations Council, according to a press release.

The Forward: Dear Jewish community - here’s what to do now By Jeremy Burton, Josh Sayles, Lindsey Mintz And Rori Picker Neiss. June 3, 2020

As protests continue across the United States, we are witnessing at the forefront, a conversation about what the Jewish community relations field has long understood to exist under the surface: systemic racism underlies and permeates our societal structures.

The Boston Herald: Some Massachusetts houses of worship reopen during coronavirus pandemic, many remain closed. By Lisa Kashinsky, May 24, 2020

Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, said many rabbis are waiting to resume in-person services until their congregants can safely worship as one. “I would imagine for many you’re going to see (closures) stretching at least into summer,” he said. “Many are still talking about preparing to go virtual for the High Holiday services in September.”

The Forward: A newfound humility: We're in this together. By Jeremy Burton, May 24, 2020

"The unprecedented nature of what we’re experiencing and its radical implication for virtually every aspect of our individual and collective lives means that we cannot yet say how our reality will be permanently altered in the wake of the coronavirus. But there is one realization from this still early chapter of the story we’re living through: What will be required of us is a measure both of creativity and innovation beyond anything we have been called to exercise in recent memory."

The Boston Globe: On a matter of faith, a different higher power helped guide Baker: the courts. By Matt Stout, May 20, 2020

The Boston Herald: Coronavirus in Massachusetts: Businesses looking for reopening answers from Charlie Baker. By Rick Sobey, May 17, 2020

Jeremy Burton of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston said they’re seeking guidance from the governor about what measures need to be taken to reopen. "Congregations will proceed with caution based on their guidance,” Burton said.

MassLive: Ahead of Massachusetts reopening announcement, religious leaders left in the dark. By Douglas Hook, May 17, 2020

“The infrastructure and services provided by faith communities and our institutions are part of the backbone of our Commonwealth,” said Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston in a statement. “As we work with, place our trust in, and follow the guidance of our elected leadership, we are also telling them that faith institutions and our contributions will be essential to any successful re-opening and recovery for Massachusetts.”

7 News Boston: Local faith leaders meet with advisory board to discuss religious institutions reopening in Mass. By Brooke Coupal, May 13, 2020

The Boston Herald, Boston church gives away $125,000 to help cope with coronavirus By Marie Szaniszlo, May 12, 2020

“The infrastructure and services provided by faith communities and our institutions are part of the backbone of our Commonwealth” said Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston.“As we work with, place our trust in and follow the guidance of our elected leadership, we are also telling them that faith institutions and our contributions will be essential to any successful re-opening and recovery for Massachusetts,” he added.

The Boston Globe, Faith leaders meet with Reopening Advisory Committee, don’t discuss timing By Jeremy C. Fox, May 12, 2020

The meeting included representatives from the Massachusetts Council of Churches, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

Religion News Service, In Missouri, Jewish leaders and other clergy argue for religious exemption to vote by mail By Jack Jenkins, May 8, 2020

Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Boston, said his group is waiting to see if the Massachusetts State Legislature passes proposed legislation that would repeal restrictions on absentee voting. But if the bill fails, he said his group may take action. “We are supporting that legislation and hoping that it will be adopted quickly,” he said. “However, there are certainly rabbis in our community saying that if the legislature fails to act, we’re going to need to do it here, too.”

The Jewish Advocate, Israel Policy Forum launches local chapter for millennials The Jewish Advocate, March 11, 2020

Speakers included Rachel Goldberg, the Jewish Community Relations Council’s Boston Partners for Peace program manager; MIT research scientist Theodore Golfinopoulous, a Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow instructor; IPF policy director Michael Koplow; and Shayna Weiss, associate director of Brandeis University Schusterman Center for Israel Studies

The Times of Israel, AIPAC and How Bipartisanship Matters By Jeremy Burton, March 6, 2020

I believe in the importance and value of institutions like AIPAC; the rare spaces these days where Americans come together despite partisan differences in support of a bipartisan shared agenda on key foreign policy concerns.This week, as in the past, there was so much that I appreciated at AIPAC, like the diversity of voices and the honest conversations…”

Sanders declined an invitation — and ended up in a fight over Jewish identity
The Washington Post, February 26, 2020

Jeremy Burton, head of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, said he’s hearing responses to Sanders’s decision that are all over the map.

The one common theme, he said, is anxiety among Jews about having a Jewish nominee or president. That’s true whether the person is Sanders or Mike Bloomberg, the media executive and former New York mayor who also is rising in polls and will address AIPAC.

“At the end of the day, Jews know anti-Semitism is part of the DNA of Western civilization,” Burton said. “And when people are despairing or feeling at a loss, somehow Jews will get blamed.”

Volunteers at the Vilna Shul Participate in MLK Day of Service
NorthEndWaterfront.com, January 27, 2020

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) hosted its 5th annual MLK Day of Service with more than 700 volunteers of all ages from the Jewish community participating in over a dozen community service projects.

Boston Partners for Peace Engages Israelis, Palestinians and the Boston Jewish Community
JewishBoston, By Judy Bolton-Fasman, January 14, 2020

In August 2018, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) launched Boston Partners for Peace, an initiative that brings together Israelis and Palestinians in Israel with their peers in Boston. The participants are dedicated to building new bridges and forging connections in the name of peace and a two-state solution. Eli Cohn-Postell, JCRC’s director of Israel engagement, and Rachel Goldberg, program manager, recently spoke to JewishBoston about the project’s origin and its ongoing work.

Boston Partners for Peace Engages Israelis, Palestinians and the Boston Jewish Community
JewishBoston, By Judy Bolton-Fasman, January 14, 2020

In August 2018, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) launched Boston Partners for Peace, an initiative that brings together Israelis and Palestinians in Israel with their peers in Boston. The participants are dedicated to building new bridges and forging connections in the name of peace and a two-state solution. Eli Cohn-Postell, JCRC’s director of Israel engagement, and Rachel Goldberg, program manager, recently spoke to JewishBoston about the project’s origin and its ongoing work.

Where to Volunteer With Your Family on MLK Day
JewishBoston, By Kara Baskin, January 7, 2020

On Monday, Jan. 20, Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council hosts its biggest-ever Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. They’ve partnered with organizations like PJ Library, Vilna Shul and The Rashi School for events throughout the Boston area, but sign up soon: young adult social justice program manager Shoshana Edelson says that while they typically welcome about 200 volunteers, they’ve already tripled that number this year. They’ll host programs for kids, teens and adults. “It’s an important day in the broader community. One of our main goals is to not just be visible in the Jewish community, but visible in the broader Boston community, living out Martin Luther King’s values of giving back through the Jewish lens of tikkun olam,” Edelson says.

Amid Rise In Anti-Semitic Acts, Massachusetts Increases Funds For Nonprofit Security

WAMC New England, By Paul Tuthill, January 7, 2020

Governor Charlie Baker held a ceremonial bill signing Monday with legislative leaders, members of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, and faith leaders from several religions to announce $1 million more funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

Amid spate of anti-Semitic attacks, Massachusetts allocates $1.5 million for nonprofit security grants
MassLive, By Shira Schoenberg, January 6, 2020

Several Jewish community leaders who attended the bill signing said they were heartened by government’s response to the incidents.

Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, said Jews talk a lot about their history of persecution, expulsion and pogroms. But Burton said in the past, government was responsible for the persecution.

“What we know today, what we see here, what we see in this country, is that government has the back of communities, communities of faith, communities of minorities, communities under attack, communities that are being persecuted,” Burton said. “And that gives us the resiliency to continue to gather, continue to meet, continue to celebrate our culture.”

Baker: "We Have the Backs" of Those Practicing Faith
State House News, By Colin A. Young, January 6, 2020
Also published in: Cape Cod Today, Taunton Daily Gazette, Massachusetts Newswire, WickedLocal Newton, Worcester Telegram

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston has worked with the Legislature over the last few years to create a similar grant program at the state level for religious and nonprofit facilities "at risk of terrorism and violent threat." In the fiscal year 2018 budget, the state provided $75,000 for such grants. It expanded to $150,000 and then to $500,000 in the most recent annual budget. In the supplemental budget Baker signed last month, lawmakers approved an additional $1 million in funding.

Jeremy Burton, executive director of the JCRC of Greater Boston, pointed out that while having state money available for security is helpful, the fact that state government would raise its voice against hateful actions speaks louder.

Gov. Baker Allocates More Funds to Secure Places of Worship
NBC10 Boston, January 6, 2020

"It's not just a challenge for the Jewish community, it's a challenge for all Americans."

State sets aside $1m for grants to help keep houses of worship safe
Boston Globe, By James Pindell, January 6, 2020

Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, said that in the past, persecution of Jews was state-sanctioned.

But “today, what we see here, and what we see in this country, is that government has the back of communities of faith, minorities, and communities under attack,” Burton said. “That gives us the resiliency to continue to gather, to continue to meet, continue to celebrate our culture and our faith as a community.”

Members of local Jewish community travel to New York solidarity march
Boston Globe, By Jeremy C. Fox, January 4, 2020

In the Boston area, local organizations have come together to spread the word about the march and recruit activists to travel to New York, including Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, JCC of Greater Boston, the Israeli-American Council, and the American Jewish Committee.

Anti-Semitism is not a Jewish problem
Boston Globe, By Marc Baker, Jeremy Burton and Robert Trestan, January 3, 2020

We must take our own proactive steps to improve safety and security at our institutions. This means deepening relationships with law enforcement, enhancing security at our facilities, and attending awareness and preparedness trainings. Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Jewish Community Relations Council, ADL, and partner organizations are all investing in programming and education to rid our schools, workplaces, sporting venues, and religious institutions of anti-Semitism. It also means standing together with people from every background and faith against all forms of hatred and violence so that no one needs to be afraid to proudly live out their faith or cultural heritage.

Jeremy Burton Reflects on His Role in Boston’s Jewish Community
JewishBoston.com, By Judy Bolton-Fasman, December 30th, 2019

Eight years ago, Jeremy Burton assumed the executive directorship of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. The move was the culmination of Burton’s long-held desire to build a Jewish community that reflected his hopes, dreams and values. In contemplating his role as a Jewish leader in these precarious times for American Jewry, Burton said: “As with all these challenging issues, we look at the values that are definitional for the Jewish community. How can we focus on relationships and be proximate to those most impacted by these challenges?”

It’s Not The Jews’ Job To Figure Out How To Stop Anti-Semitism. It’s Yours.
The Forward, By Jeremy Burton, December 30th, 2019

Early Sunday morning, as we were reeling from the news of the brutal stabbing attack in Monsey, New York that left five Hassidic Jews hospitalized, a friend asked me, “When we call on civic leaders to fight more vigorously against anti-Semitism in the United States, and what can they do?”

It’s an important question that requires an answer. But as I explained to my friend, it should not be my responsibility, or ours as a Jewish community, to answer it.

America is enduring the worst wave of sustained anti-Semitic violence in our nation’s history. In the fourteen months since the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh, places of Jewish gathering have endured deadly attacks in Poway and Jersey City.

Stabbing at rabbi’s home the latest in a series of anti-Semitic attacks: Officials
The Boston Herald, By Rick Sobey, December 29th, 2019

Nahma Nadich, deputy director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, said, “We are living in an unending nightmare.”

The U.S. Jewish community is in a “state of full-blown crisis,” added executive director Jeremy Burton.

“We’ve never experienced this kind of sustained violence against us here,” he tweeted. “But it’s not our crisis to fix. It’s American’s as a whole. So, what are you all going to do to fight #antisemitism?”

A state budget plan is late. How late? It’s for the last fiscal year
The Boston Globe, By Matt Stout, November 29th, 2019

Aaron Agulnek — director of government affairs for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, which publicizes the nonprofit grants’ availability to local centers and synagogues — said the grant process is moving forward as expected after the program received $500,000 in the current state budget. But the delay has left unclear exactly how many applicants could ultimately benefit.“The fact remains, it’s unfortunate that with so many areas of consensus . . . which real people and real priorities are impacted by, that [lawmakers] haven’t been able to move forward,” Agulnek said of the budget bill.

Can we retire the concept of ‘conversion’ to Judaism?
Times of Israel, By Jeremy Burton, November 26th, 2019

My mother was raised Catholic. She became Jewish while in university, going through a process — guided by her rabbi and supervised by a rabbinical court in San Francisco — of wide-ranging study covering Jewish practice, history and culture. I was born Jewish a few years later. Growing up, at our shabbat table in New York, we regularly hosted men and women who were becoming — or had recently become — Jewish through our synagogue. These individuals, some of whom became part of our own extended family, came to us through our rabbi, who knew that they would need a mentor and guide with a shared experience of becoming Jewish — a responsibility that my mother readily embraced.

5 Jewish things to know about Deval Patrick
Jewish Telegraphic Agency, By Josefin Dolsten, November 15th, 2019

Jeremy Burton, the executive director of Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council, recalled the ease with which Patrick would participate in Jewish events.

“He considered himself at home when he was in a Jewish space, and the Jewish community considered him to be part of it,” Burton told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Thursday.

Should American Jews Stop Trying to Defeat Antisemitism?
Times of Israel, By Jeremy Burton, November 14th, 2019

Should we, American Jews, stop trying to defeat antisemitism?

It is a question I’ve been pondering as I recently spent a month traveling through Europe and experiencing Jewish memory. And it is a question I’d love to hear from others about: Should we, as an American Jewish community, stop carrying the fight to “end” antisemitism in our country?
Why do I ask this question?

U.S. FBI report shows first decrease in hate crimes in 4 years

Boston 25 News, November 12, 2019

"The repetition, the intensity, is creating a sense that we as a Jewish community haven't really faced so acutely in America.” “Aaron Agulnek is with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. The JCRC says that while these numbers may show a decline in hate crime, the level of fear in the Jewish community is on the incline, especially after recent unsolved arson fires at the homes of rabbis in Arlington and Needham, and the deaths of 11 worshipers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last year.” “Houses of prayer, schools, community centers, those are places of gathering, and we need to do something as a community to create a sense of security, while still maintaining that sense of openness."

U.S. Jews Seek Ways to Fight New Age of anti-Semitism

Haaretz, October 27, By Dina Kraft

Nahma Nadich, acting executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Boston, says she sees a new level of anxiety among Jews about the national and local situation. Massachusetts is experiencing near-record numbers of anti-Semitic incidents — which most recently included news that some students at a suburban middle school created a Snapchat group called “Kill the Jews.”...She sees the deep relationships built with other communities in the area as essential in the fight against anti-Semitism. “When something terrible happens, including after the Pittsburgh attack, some of the first calls we receive are from Christian and Muslim groups … it makes such a difference not to feel alone,” Nadich says...She adds: “Certainly in the dramatic moments people show up, but there are also lots of smaller moments where people are showing up as well.” Nadich also notes conversations where, when non-Jews reach out trying to learn more, she and her colleagues find themselves having to explain basic anti-Semitic tropes revolving around power and money.

Meanwhile, social justice mobilizing has included activists hosting asylum seekers in their homes and Jewish community members traveling to the San Diego area to get a better picture of what’s happening to asylum seekers on the border at ICE detention centers.

“People are desperately trying to figure out what in God’s name to do,” Nadich says...In Massachusetts, the Jewish Community Relations Council has been working with the state government to expand a grant program to help cover security costs for religious and nonprofit facilities."

Massachusetts Has an Anti-Semitism Problem, and It’s Only Getting Worse

Boston Magazine, Digital and Print, By Michael Damiano

Massachusetts Lawmakers Considering Genocide Education Mandates

Armenian Weekly, October 9, 2019

A coalition of over 25 organizations including the ANCs of Eastern Mass., Central Mass. and Merrimack Valley, the Genocide Education Project, Facing History and Ourselves, Mass. Coalition to Save Darfur as well as several Jewish advocacy groups including the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) all convened at the Massachusetts State House on Monday to provide support and testimony in front of the House/Senate Joint Committee on Education in its public hearing for bills H.566/S.327.

Jews Prepare For High Holidays As White Supremacist Incidents Soar In Mass.

WGBH NEWS, September 26, 2019

Aaron Agulnek of the Jewish Community Relations Council said he hopes concerns about security don't keep anybody from worshiping during this New Year's season. “These wounds are fresh and the anxiety is real, and at a time of the High Holidays, when Jews traditionally come together in great numbers, this is the time where a lot of people might be experiencing these threats for the first time.”

But he believes worshipers will not be deterred. “We're all coming together. The doors will be open. People will be coming to pray. And we're not going to let threats of violence get in the way of our sacred celebrations.”

Gov. Charlie Baker has allocated an additional $1 million for State Nonprofit Security Program

MassLive, September 12, 2019

On May 10, in an open letter to Baker, the Jewish Community Relations Council asked for full funding.

“The State of New York offered $10 million in grants to vulnerable non-public schools and cultural centers, including religious-based institutions,” the letter states. “New Jersey released $11.3 million in funds; Maryland released $5 million, and recently the Governor of California announced $15 million in grants. Massachusetts, however, only has a pilot program of $150,000, with no funds yet allocated for the next year."

New England Revolution, Chelsea FC, donate $4 million to charities and nonprofits

Pro Soccer USA, August 27, 2019

The Revolution said individual grants as high as $500,000 were donated to three beneficiaries with global reach: the Anti-Defamation League, Holocaust Educational Trust, and World Jewish Congress.

Other organizations benefiting include: Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Community Security Trust, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, FARE, Hillel International, International March of the Living, Israeli-American Council, Jewish Agency for Israel, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, Kick it Out, Stand with Us, the Philos Project, and the Tree of Life Synagogue.

Jewish schools, synagogues seek state grants to improve security

Boston Globe, August 18, 2019

The interest here among Jewish institutions in the grants is driven, in part, by such organizations as the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, which publicizes their availability to centers and synagogues.

“There is a level of anxiety [in the community],” said Aaron Agulnek, the organization’s director of government affairs. “Safe places should be safe places. Programs like this and smart target-hardening upgrades can help promote peace of mind.

“But,” he added, “it’s also not the final answer to the problem.”

Ayanna Pressley Is the Squad’s Free Agent

Politico, August 7, 2019

Everyone from Twitter to the Times of Israel has made mistaken assumptions about her, says Jeremy Burton, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, who lives in Pressley’s district and notes that Pressley’s Israel boycott vote was consistent with her campaign rhetoric. Most of those mistakes, Burton says, were “entirely based on what she represents as a woman of color, and who she’s working with and aligned with on a bunch of other issues, and not what she was actually saying.”

The 31 best things to do around Boston in August

Boston.com, July 31, 2019

ReachOut! Volunteering at the Emerald Necklace. Get your hands dirty at the Emerald Necklace’s Rose Garden to plant trees, flowers, and remove invasive species. (5:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.; James P. Kelleher Rose Garden, Fenway-Kenmore; free; all ages)

Senator Eldridge, United Way and Boston Builds Credit join community partners to advocate for credit-building legislation to create upward economic mobility

United Way, July 30, 2019

“The ability to access credit is a crucial need for people seeking economic opportunity in today’s economy,” testified Aaron Agulnek, Director of Government Affairs at jewish Community Relations Council. “Given the power of credit scoring agencies on every aspect of individual economic opportunity, it is incumbent on policy makers to ensure that people can build their credit while reforms are considered for the industry.”

Grant Program Would Fund Hate Crime Awareness in Schools

State House News, July 26, 2019

"Seemingly every day a violent and threatening incident motivated by intolerance and bigotry is carried out in every pocket of the Commonwealth," Aaron Agulnek of the Jewish Community Relations Council said in a statement. "We must meet this crisis head-on through education, community intervention and meaningful partnerships. Our public schools and institutions are best positioned to develop a generation of residents committed to understanding and respect."

JCRC Labor Trip to Israel

The Jewish Advocate, July 17, 2019

The Jews getting arrested at ICE centers are just getting started

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 12, 2019

JCRC celebrates 75th anniversary

The Jewish Advocate, Digital and Print, June 19, 2019

Hate Crimes Fuel Push For State Security Funds

State House News Service, May 20, 2019
also printed in: WGBH,  Daily Hampshire Gazette

Vigil Outside Needham Jewish Center After Arson

New England Cable News, May 18, 2019

Police Investigate Fires at Rabbi's Home, Jewish Center

New England Cable News, May 17, 2019

“Well. . .It’s Complicated Because. . .

Af-Am Point of View, April 1, 2019

Public affairs body calls for more funding

Washington Jewish Week, February 13, 2019

JCPA Makes Expansion Push Amid Increasingly Treacherous Politics
The New York Jewish Week, February 12, 2019
Super Bowl LIII Was Good for the Jews

The Daily Beast, February 4, 2019

Easthampton mayor looks to Israel for pointers
Daily Hampshire Gazette, December 13, 2018
Living under a cloud of suspicion
Andover Townsman, August 23, 2018
Boston-area city council turns away BDS resolution
Jewish Telegraphic Agency, April 22, 2018
‘Mein Kampf’ proceeds ought to go exclusively to Holocaust education
Boston Globe Letter to the Editor, May 18, 2016