Tag Archives: Community Relations

National Volunteer Week… and Beyond

Every week at JCRC is busy and this one is no exception, but even amidst all the public events, the press rumbles – all part of the ‘normal’ life of a CRC, what really keeps our team busy is the steady work of realizing the values of Boston’s Jewish community in the civic sphere.

Across the nation this week, (April 10-16) people are marking National Volunteer Week.  President Barak Obama, as he has done each year, issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring this week as a time to recognize the incredible work of volunteers in service. In Boston, today is One Boston Day, a time to honor those impacted by the Marathon bombings by giving back to the community and sharing acts of kindness.

JCRC marked this week with special projects, photo ops, and some well-deserved volunteer appreciation.  As a service organization, we’re dedicating time to highlight the work of our over 1000 volunteers participating in JCRC initiatives this year.

  • We started Sunday with a new collaborative service project between ReachOut! and Northeastern Hillel, engaging 70 students in a day of volunteering.
  • Sunday was also a mitzvah day in the South Area of Greater Boston. About a dozen seniors at the Simon C. Firemen Community and teen participants from TELEM worked together to make over 100 sandwiches to donate to the Evelyn House in Stoughton, both local ongoing TELEM sites.
  • Our young adults launched “Bring a friend to ReachOut!” this week to recruit and engage new young adults in the program.
  • The Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy (GBJCL) will be delivering over $2000 in brand new books to each of their partner schools in honor of the hundreds of volunteers who generously give of their time each week to support a thousand students. This special gift was made possible by our friends at First Book and Simmons College.

A small confession – much of this incredible work would have been done regardless of National Volunteer Week. The activities this week are, in fact, just another facet of our ongoing partnerships with the community organizations with which we work. Our volunteers serve every day, investing an incredible amount of time, energy, and passion to build relationships with people and with organizations to create lasting change.  It is what allows us at JCRC, to be able to experiment with new programming, to try different ways of engaging with our partners and volunteers and to work collaboratively to develop the best ways to serve our community. 

So why was this week different than all other weeks (other than that I’m obviously pre-gaming for Passover)? 

This week, we connected young people and seniors, as always, but this time, it was to join together in service and provide for the needs of another organization. ReachOut! leaders, in thoughtful collaboration with our service partners, created the opportunity for young adults to get a taste of the program by bringing a friend to volunteer. We celebrated the work of our literacy volunteers – and expanded on their work– by providing access to great literature in schools, something that isn’t always available.

In the President‘s  proclamation he calls “upon all Americans to observe this week by volunteering in service projects across our country and pledging to make service a part of their daily lives.”  

Let us use this week – and specifically today in Boston – to launch a new commitment to service, but let’s not let it stop after the week has passed. Let’s integrate service into our everyday lives through the relationships we build.  It takes more than a week to create lasting change.  Our volunteers do incredible work every week.  We should honor their commitment this week knowing that next week they will still be tutoring students who are not yet reading at grade level; next week, there will still be a group of young adults who will be serving meals to those in need in Cambridge; and, next week, there will still be teens who spend time with an isolated senior after a full day of school.  It is the ongoing work we honor today, this week and always.

 

With Thunderous Applause

I was reminded this week of a scene in one of the classic science-fiction Star Wars movies:

A craven politician has sown revolts and terror, and has encouraged fear in the populace. At the opportune moment, he comes before the senate and announces that in order to ensure continued security, the republic will be reorganized as a galactic empire. Amidst the applause, the camera pans to our heroine, Senator Amidala who, watching the vast crowd, says:

“So This Is How Liberty Dies, With Thunderous Applause.”

This week we also saw fear. Fear in the aftermath of the Brussels bombing on Tuesday; a fear that sadly and quickly - though no longer surprisingly – was exploited by an outrageous statement from a Presidential candidate calling for an expansion of powers for law enforcement officers to patrol “Muslim neighborhoods” in the U.S.

In trying to make sense of the various events this week another scene from Star Wars came to mind. Master Yoda, meeting the young Anakin Skywalker for the first time, offers him some Jedi wisdom: "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering."

This insight rings particularly true in this moment when in the wake of terrorism, opportunistic politicians offer rhetoric that plays on our deepest fears. We heard a call to hatred that would violate the bedrock freedoms of our nation, create suffering for the innocent, and that would, in all probability be counterproductive as our nation deals with the struggle against radical Islamist violence.

Too much of our political discourse in this election has been driven by fear - fear for our future and for our safety, for the quality of life our children will experience, and for the ability of our nation to face challenges in a changing world. Some candidates have manipulated these fears, played to them, capitalized on them to divide us and turn us against each other for political gain.

Fear and anger have already led to hate and suffering, including the beating in Boston of a Latino man by the supporters of one candidate last year.

In the Jewish community, we are all too familiar with fear, not only as a historical reality, but also as an organizing principle within our current politics. We fear for the future of Israel as a Jewish, secure, and democratic nation.  But rather than uniting us, our fear has deeply divided our community in recent years. Some of us fear more intensely for Israel’s democratic character while others prioritize Israel’s security issues. The alarming result has been that Jews passionately committed to Israel have turned against fellow Jews over the slightest nuance (from a global perspective) of what it means to be pro-Israel.

At this week’s AIPAC policy conference, a large and diverse community came together, united by our love for Israel and by our fear for her survival and security. Much of the content over three days spoke to our hope and aspirations for Israel. But as has happened so often in this political season, a candidate pandered directly to the fear in the room. We heard coarse and angry sentiments that, though taboo in our discourse, resonated with many listeners. We were invited to ignore any considerations beyond our own fears – including the fears carried by others outside that room - and to join in a raucous and dangerous movement.

Many American political leaders bear responsibility for cultivating the culture of fear that has ripened into this moment. So too, many of us – Jewish leaders and leaders of Israel – share the responsibility for this moment. In rallying support for Israel, we’ve too often called our community to action from Pachad (fear), rather than from Tikvah (hope).

So as leaders this is our time for soul searching as we determine what action to take for the sake of our nation. And for me, candidly, that action is still in part coming from fear; because experiencing that moment at AIPAC was terrifying. I didn’t fully appreciate how the political phenomenon of appealing to our basest instincts to salve our fears has taken root until now. I thought this election was a fantastical fiction. Now I see it is all too real.

And still I believe that we can renew our hope, and that by doing so we can overcome our current reality. This is the task before us.

Shabbat Shalom

 

Note: This post also appears on Times of Israel

Humility and Unity

If the upcoming Presidential election is about any one thing, it is about our anxieties for the future: in a changing and dynamic world that we struggle to understand, are our families and children safe? Will our children have the quality of life that we have known? Is our nation capable of facing the potential challenges of this changing world? To add to these anxieties, we are grappling with them in a profoundly individualistic and atomized society where our collective identity has been greatly diminished, where we struggle to see ourselves as sharing one national purpose - a sense of unity in the face of our challenges.
 
This experience of anxiety can easily escalate into deep-seated fears, not least of which is expressed in our search for someone or something that is responsible for our troubles. This yearning for answers can all too easily transform into a hatred of those we perceive as “other.” 
 
In his insightful new book Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence, Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks writes that “anyone who wants to unite a nation, especially one that has been deeply fractured, must demonize an adversary or, if necessary, invent an enemy.” In doing so, he goes on, a culture becomes “susceptible to a pure and powerful dualism,” one that focuses on and sometimes invents external enemies. But, he warns, the real victims are the members of this society itself, because “no free society was ever built on hate.”
 
On Wednesday, January 20th, JCRC, along with our partners in the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), will come together and invite congregants from all of our faith traditions to a series of four conversations at diverse houses of worship. Together we will develop relationships, learn about each other’s traditions and affirm our shared values and common humanity. The day will begin with a fast – for those who choose to participate in this way - and continue as a day of humility and unity.  We will conclude this day with a break-fast and the first of our four conversations.
 
The idea of fasting and humility in search of renewed unity and shared purpose is not new. In 1863, while our nation was even more profoundly divided, President Lincoln proclaimed such a day. He urged that this fast be done “in sincerity and truth…that the united cry of the Nation be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.
 
Rabbi Sacks writes that in this century, Christians, Muslims, and Jews are “summoned” to: 

“…take seriously not only our own perspective but also that of others. The world has changed. Relationships  have gone global. Our destinies are interlinked….For the first time in history we can relate to one another as dignified equals. Now therefore is a time to listen, in the attentive silence of the troubled soul, to hear in the word of God for all time, the word of God for our time.” 

I invite you to join us and our partners in recommitting ourselves to our common humanity, to listen to each other and in doing so, engage in the restoration of a shared civic purpose that soundly rejects the politics that would divide us.

To RSVP for the January 20th break-fast and first conversation which will take place at ISBCC, and to find out more about the schedule of conversations, please visit our website.

#TDOR: The Cost of Being Other

 

As I write to you from Germany, I’m reflecting on one of the lessons we draw from our own experience; that we all benefit and thrive in a free society where all are protected, and that it is vital for us to  speak out against all forms of fear and discrimination.  I look forward to sharing my learnings and observations when I return, but for today, as we recognize Transgender Day of Remembrance, we must continue to fight for and with those who are persecuted. As Keshet’s Boston Regional Director, Joanna Ware, said, “As Jews, we know all too well the cost of being marked as other. We know the collective pain of injustice and loss, and we know the necessity of marking and remembering that pain and mourning, in order to move forward into the more just, whole world we are all partners in creating.”

At their Biennial earlier this month, The Union for Reform Judaism passed a sweeping resolution affirming the rights of transgender people, citing its “commitment to defend any individual from the discrimination that arises from ignorance, fear, insensitivity, or hatred.” The resolution went on to assert that “ Knowing that members of the transgender and gender non-conforming communities are often singled out for discrimination and even violence, we are reminded of the Torah's injunction, "Do not stand idly while your neighbor bleeds." 
 
One of those people is Alex, of Brookline, MA.
 
“Eventually, [my job] became unbearable because the senior staff were making my life miserable because I was open about being transgender. So even somebody like myself, with all these credentials and all this training and all this experience—still gets discriminated against. I can’t reach my full potential, because of other people’s discrimination against me. [Judaism] connects me throughout the generations, with people all over the world. …Being Jewish has helped me in dealing with being transgender.”
 
Last week, JCRC urged the Massachusetts House and Senate to extend non-discrimination protections in public places to transgender individuals. Of the many reasons I am proud to be a resident of this Commonwealth, is our proud history of leading the nation when it comes to extending civil rights protections, in particular for the LGBT community. It is troubling that four years ago a compromise was made that still left some freedoms unprotected, including accessing facilities based on one’s gender identity.  We are proud of the broad spectrum of advocacy organizations, business leaders, and the entire membership of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation who are standing up to ensure that happens – because, for each day without these protections, transgender people face discrimination and humiliation, and are at greater risk of being victims of transphobic violence.

It is clear that times are changing and that history is shifting direction, as we reflected in the Union of Reform Judaism recent resolution.  But, we are far from done in our work to ensure full inclusion. We still need more education and understanding. Together we must aspire to be a community that embraces people of all gender identities.

Even when all transgender people are truly free, we must never forget the pain and sacrifices of those who gave so much – including losing their lives, due to violence rooted in ignorance that continues even today in our country.  This is why, in addition to our advocacy, we honor beloved members of OUR transgender community this weekend and commit ourselves to pursuing justice in their honor. May their memory truly be a blessing upon the freedoms of those of us who walk in their path.
 
With that, I will offer some resources so that we may learn together:

 

Shabbat Shalom,

Jeremy

 

You Are Not Alone

One of the many beautiful characteristics that defines the Boston Jewish community is our commitment to be in partnership and solidarity with other Jewish communities around the world. Amidst very difficult times for too many communities, it bears repeating that a fundamental value that informs that commitment is the notion that, when it comes to the security and community safety needs of others, we don’t tell them what to do.

Unfortunately we’ve had a lot of opportunities to say this lately.

Last January, following the vicious attacks in Paris on Charlie Hedbo and the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, there was much talk about what the future entails for the Jewish community of France. We did not have any right to tell French Jews what to do. Who are we to tell a mother that she must remain somewhere if she worries every day that she is endangering the lives of her children just by sending them to the market? Who are we to tell someone who has a job, treasured community and deep roots that they should give up on their country and leave it?

In Ukraine we have been committed for nearly a quarter century to a partnership with the Jewish community of Dnepropetrovsk. Together we have reinvigorated Jewish life in that city in ways that have enriched our own as well. As part of their country is under Russian occupation, as they live near the frontlines of the area of terrorist operations, and as they struggle with a downturn in the national economy, it’s still not our place to tell them what to do. Who are we to tell our friends, who made the commitment to stay after the fall of the Soviet Union, that they should now leave after all that they have built? And who are we to tell them to stay if they believe that this crisis is ‘one too many’ to endure?

In Sweden, where astoundingly Jews were excluded from participating in a Kristallnacht commemoration this week, we share their outrage. In Argentina, when the community expresses vulnerability after the death of Alberto Nisman and continues to seek answers regarding the AMIA bombing after 20 years, we share their concern and join them in their demands.

In all these relationships we come to the table with a commitment of solidarity. Our message to all these Jewish communities around the world is simple: Atem Lo L’vad. You are not alone. We will offer our advice and insight. We will tell you how your decisions impact us – as Jews and as Americans. But we will respect your decisions and we will stand with you when you make them, in any way we can. For Jews in these countries our message is clear: If you stay, we will bring our advocacy and resources to bear on your behalf. If you leave, you will do so with our support as you build new lives in Israel or elsewhere.

Part of understanding and supporting our brothers and sisters is to engage directly with them, to listen to them, and to understand theirs hopes and aspirations, along with their concerns, for their communities. That’s why I’m excited and honored that I’ll be spending the next week – together with a group of Jewish leaders from across North America - in Berlin and Munich as a guest of the German Foreign Office to learn about Jewish life in Germany today. Because only by being in relationship with our family around the world can we truly understand and be in solidarity with them. I look forward to telling you about my experience when we return.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jeremy

P.S. In related news, this coming week the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston will host a ‘Hot Buttons, Cool Conversations’ discussion “Anti-Semitism today in Europe - Is it safe for the Jews?” It’s a great lineup of thought leaders and JCRC is proud to co-sponsor. I encourage you to check it out.

Thousands of People are Waiting | A Message from our Director of Service Initiatives

Martin Luther King Jr said, “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.”  Most of us are familiar with this quote and similar expressions of the importance of volunteerism.  Words like this have inspired generations of people to participate in community service.  This notion of making the world a better place through individual acts is deeply rooted in American culture, dating back to the colonial era with the first volunteer fire departments, and groups of volunteers who supported the revolution.  The pursuit of justice is at the core of Judaism as well. 

Today, volunteerism is widespread and serves as a common link between the for-profit, government, and non-profit sectors. The national conversation on this was front and center last week when I attended the Points of Light Conference on Volunteering and Service. The breadth of industries represented was extensive, from big name fashion corporations to municipal government groups to grassroots advocacy organizations, all with an investment in community service. It was clear that service is not only important in the non-profit world, but is crucial to the functioning of every sector. 

While there was a lot to take in from four days of conversation about all facets of the volunteer engagement world, a few lessons stood out. The United States is witnessing a unique and important moment in time for volunteerism. More than ever, millennials are looking for meaningful service work where they can roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty. Bill Basl, Director of AmeriCorps, a featured speaker at the conference, cited that 70% of millennials have the desire to make a difference but only 3% volunteer. At the same time, the baby boomer generation is retiring and they want to use the skills they have cultivated over the years to serve a good cause. 

This is an exciting prospect for those of us thinking about how to include more people in volunteer service. There are thousands of people waiting for the right kind of opportunity. It was startling to learn that while 65 million Americans volunteer, 20 million do not return to serve again.  We clearly have our work cut out for us.

What are the implications for JCRC as a service organization and the Boston Jewish community?  We are extremely well positioned for this new pivot to community service. JCRC has a current portfolio of service programs that provides opportunities for people of all ages, millennials and baby boomers alike. Our hope for the future is to expand on these initiatives and provide a range of ways for the Jewish community to become involved in service. We are committed to recruiting, supporting and sustaining energetic groups of well trained volunteers who truly make a difference, by addressing needs identified and prioritized by our partners; community based organizations on the ground throughout Greater Boston.

Our volunteers are deeply passionate about the organizations with which they work. Our service sites drive the experience so the impact is real and meaningful. Sustained community service fosters genuine relationships between people that keep our volunteers coming back, sometimes for as much as eighteen years. 

Our sense of community derives from our shared Jewish values. A commitment to chessed and gimilut chasadim, acts of loving-kindness, is what keeps us grounded together in this work.  This winter, we will have another opportunity to come together, as representatives of the Jewish community, and in collaboration with volunteers throughout Greater Boston in the name of service. For the first time, JCRC will be organizing volunteers from the Jewish community to participate in the Martin Luther King Jr national day of service on January 18th, 2016. We will work together with our partners at City Mission to identify real community need, and engage our volunteers in a meaningful way. 

I invite you to join us in this movement, to learn more about our service programs, and to discover the right volunteer opportunity for you. 

Shabbat Shalom,

Emily Reichman
Director of Service Initiatives

On Israel Crisis Statements: Clarity and Complexity

When Israel is in crisis and violence flares, like many of you, my inbox is filled with messages from various organizations. I also hear a lot of questions from you about various organizations’ statements, including our own — Why does this one focus on this aspect of the violence? Why does that one only address A but not B?  Why did you choose to mention X but not Y?
 
My sense is that the elusive “perfect statement” is like the hunt for the great white whale; to effectively address every nuance, represent every concern of all members of our community, and say everything that should be said to every audience would require a massive novel every day. That’s not plausible and so, inevitably, no statement or comment is ever perfect.
 
What I’ve come to perceive is that we – the organized mainstream of the Jewish community - have a great deal of unity regarding our condemnation of the terrifying outbreak of violence against the Israeli people. However, we find it far more challenging to speak with one voice about the larger atmosphere in which the current crisis unfolds.
 
We have clarity about our solidarity with the Israeli people, our denunciation of acts of violence targeting civilians – and those who incite it, and our frustration with media bias.
 
We struggle however with the larger complexity — do we talk about how to manage this particular moment or do we speak about how to prevent future outbreaks of violence? We don’t agree amongst ourselves about what aspects of the larger environment are important to the narrative — continued Israeli control of Palestinians? Settlements (and which ones)? Arab rejection of a Jewish state, Jewish peoplehood, and even denial of any historical Jewish connection to the land? – to name just a few.
 
We are united in our resolve to ensure the future of a secure, democratic and Jewish state of Israel.  This is an integral piece of our shared vision of the Jewish people. When Israelis are under the threat of violence, we make our voice heard so that they do not experience this fear alone. Israel cannot be left isolated in the world.
 
As difficult and painful as this chapter is, the reality is that it is not an existential threat to the future of the Jewish state. Israel will, once again, find a way to protect its citizens, with or without international support. 
 
The far more serious threat to the future of Israel is isolation.  
 
It is infuriating that we need to wage this struggle against the isolation of Israel. I don’t need to reiterate for you the efforts of some, particularly but not limited to the global BDS movement, to demonize Israel.  But I will say that as violence flares and Israel grapples with dilemmas of response, what I worry about is that moment when people stop believing this: that the right of the Jewish people to a state of our own in our homeland is compatible with the right of the Palestinian people to their own national self-determination.  
 
These two national rights are and must remain compatible, if not necessarily easily achieved or even – for many of us – plausible in the near-term, given the current conditions. If we and, more importantly, others who are influential in this nation stop believing this to be true; if we and they begin to believe that Jewish and Palestinian rights are irreconcilable and incompatible, then Israel will truly be in a crisis as challenges to her legitimacy take root in more mainstream audiences.
 
So in moments like this, we will keep speaking with clarity about the immediate events, their proximate causes, and the justness of Israel’s response. But with equal urgency, we must keep engaging people with the larger complexity. We will continue to raise up the larger issues, the possibility of a better future, our belief in its necessity and our commitment to achieving it.  Without that, we will fail in our responsibility to the Israel we all love and care for.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jeremy

Stop Waiting for Congress on Gun Violence

"Clergy and Citizens to President Obama: Stop Whining, Start Working to Curb Gun Deaths.”

That was the message at a Metro Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) press conference in Washington yesterday.

While last week’s mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon should have fully captured our nation’s attention, we have, in truth, become numb. A shooting of this nature happens on average once every two weeks and even the slaughter of 20 children in Sandy Hook, CT didn’t lead to immediate national change. While this alone is mind-boggling, it doesn’t begin to express the scope of the plague of gun violence that takes some thirty-three thousand American lives each year.
 
It is little consolation to us that Massachusetts, once again, is found to be leading the nation. In ranking done by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence we have the lowest rate of gun deaths and some of the strongest gun violence prevention laws. This includes last year’s forward thinking legislation that JCRC, along with our member organization JALSA, and so many of our synagogues, took a leading role in working to enact.

In the wake of that victory, we have not been idle. We’ve been vigilant and persistent in ensuring that the new state law is fully implemented, an effort that is ongoing. But the prospect of enacting federal legislation is much more daunting, despite the support of our own delegation in Congress. The repetitive, nightmarish scenes of carnage we have both come to dread and expect, have yielded no new laws, or even the possibility of legislative action.
 
So it is important to know that amidst all the crass politics and cynical obstructionism, there is far more that can be done right now. 
 
We are participating in the Do Not Stand Idly By campaign - a national effort led by Metro IAF to leverage taxpayers’ purchasing power to compel gun manufacturers to adopt safer practices and invest in smart gun technology.
 
The public sector purchases 40 percent of all guns in the United States - 25% for military use and an additional 15% by law enforcement.  That’s a lot of leverage – enough to build demand for products and standards that promote safety and lawful, responsible gun use.
 
The campaign is building a Gun Buyers’ Research Group of public officials committed to purchasing guns from manufacturers who are accountable for the safety of their products. They are asking tough questions about their investment in smart gun technology and their vetting of the dealers with whom they work. Together we have built a sizable coalition of mayors, police chiefs and governors representing 77 jurisdictions, including MA Attorney General Maura Healey, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, and Newton Mayor Setti Warren.  
 
And this campaign led to yesterday’s press conference. Because we should expect and demand more of all our public officials, including the President, who – with his command authority over the largest single gun purchasing power in the nation - could be doing so much more right now.

Please read about this work and yesterday’s message in this excellent Washington Post column by E.J. Dionne.

The next major action will take place later this month at an international law enforcement gathering. JCRC will join faith leaders and police chiefs to demand answers from gun manufacturers, who will be in attendance, selling their products. In the wake of the constant mass shootings and unending epidemic of gun violence, the manufacturers’ continued silence is unacceptable.
 
Leviticus teaches us, “Do not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed.”
 
We, and our partners, will not be idle so long as one life can be saved through our efforts. I hope you will join us in this effort.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jeremy

Note: At the time this message was posted, news was breaking of a shooting earlier today at North Arizona University that left 1 dead and 3 wounded in the latest eruption of gun violence. 

Why Service?

Last night, JCRC was very proud to host JCRC Celebrates: Generations of Service, where we recognized JCRC’s community service programs and the generations of leaders who’ve made them possible. Through the generosity of our community, our inaugural live auction raised nearly $45,000 to benefit our service programs, and we are extremely appreciative to all.

Why, some have asked, do we put service programs at the heart of our work as a community relations agency along with our advocacy and interfaith agenda?

I’m certain that you will begin to understand why after you view our new video, Generations of Service, which we premiered last night. Please take a few minutes now to watch HERE. I hope you’ll be as inspired by our volunteers as I am.

JCRC exists so that we can express our Jewish community’s values in the broader public square of Boston. There is no clearer way of expressing our values than through action, through the doing of service. 

As I sat in synagogue on Rosh Hashanah I was reminded again that in our prayers this week we express contrition - not for our beliefs but for our actions; and we express contrition for these actions not in a singular “I,” but in the plural responsibility of “We.”

We do not live our Judaism through shared beliefs - though we do share a few of those - but rather by what we do.  And so much of what we do is to act upon our responsibility to others around us.

When we provide meals and share a conversation with those who are struggling; when we sit with children and help them learn to read; when we connect joyfully with seniors; we are acting on our respect for the dignity of others and demonstrating our responsibility for those around us.

In celebrating JCRC’s community service programs and the generations of leaders who’ve made them possible we honored three families – the Lynda and Jeff Bussgang family, Amanda and Campe Goodman, and Rachel and Joel Reck - who have, through their leadership, allowed us to build robust service opportunities in our community, and acted as role models for others.  We also honored my friend and mentor, Barry Shrage. I can think of no better way for us at JCRC to celebrate his legacy than to establish an award in his name and to carry forward the idea that he has consistently taught us for 30 years: To act on our values, to fulfill our responsibility to the people around us, and to relate to others with love and compassion.

This is what service is about. This is what JCRC is about. This is what our community is about.

I hope that you’ll take a few minutes to read our new annual report to learn about opportunities to join us in service, organizing, and advocacy during the coming year.

I’m grateful to all of those who’ve worked so hard to bring us together last night, especially our fabulous event chair Mark Friedman and his co-chair Ben Pearlman along with the JCRC event team who together envisioned this evening and made it a labor of love.

Thank you all for being part of our community and our work.

Shabbat Shalom,

Jeremy