Setting the Course for Advocacy in 2016

By Seth Goldberg, Government Affairs Associate

Last month, hundreds of activists from around the country came together in Washington D.C. for the Jewish Community Town Hall, sponsored by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), to shape the policy agenda for the organized Jewish community. I had the pleasure of attending, along with JCRC’s Executive Director Jeremy Burton and Public Policy Committee Chair Chuck Koplik.

Issues on the agenda included anti-Semitism in Europe and around the world; the Syrian refugee crisis; race relations; criminal justice; early childhood education; family and medical leave; and American recognition of the Armenian genocide.

At the end of the three day conference, five resolutions were passed and have all been added to the JCPA Compendium which provides guidance to JCRCs across the country. Of the five non-emergency resolutions, JCRC of Greater Boston was proud to sponsor two of them. The first was a Resolution on Paid Sick Leave, calling for support for legislation that guarantees employees reasonable paid sick leave to attend to their own health and the health of their families. The other, a Resolution on the Armenian Genocide, called for Jewish community groups to consult and work with national Armenian organizations to further the goal of U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide. Both of these amendments reflect longstanding values held in Boston and are now reflected in the national umbrella organization’s governing documents.

JCPA Board Chair Susan W. Turnbull commented, “We delved into contemporary issues and reached consensus positions that will lead our community towards action. We were informed, we discussed, and we debated, over three days. We then took concrete steps to create policy in our shared pursuit of justice.”

The additional three resolutions were: a call for criminal justice and drug reform; expanding access to early education for the poor; and further actions to combat anti-Semitism. These resolutions were enacted to allow all members of the JCPA the latitude to work on important issues of the day and to be a leader in our respective communities.

With regard to anti-Semitism, the JCPA adopted a policy calling for guidelines “regarding the line between criticism of Israel’s policies and anti-Semitism, and when that line is crossed.”

“We live in a dangerous world, not just for ourselves, but many who are at risk because of who they are, where they live, or how others perceive them,” said Ethan Felson, JCPA Senior Vice President. “We are all created in the divine image, so an injustice to anyone is an injustice to all of us – and so we take action.”

After a late night session, an emergency resolution framing concrete steps to address the crisis of Syrian refugees was passed. This resolution was penned in large part by our own Executive Director Jeremy Burton.