I have spent a lot of time discussing rapidly evolving events at meetings with JCRC partners, as well as other local and national networks and coalitions in which JCRC is involved. Many such meetings often raise the question of whether the JCRC will make a statement – either as a representative of the organized Jewish community or as part of other local and national networks and coalitions in which we sit. This discussion has arisen for topics as diverse as the efforts in Washington to limit immigration; Jewish solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and, of course, the anticipation of measures that the Israeli government can (or may not) take in the coming weeks.
In these moments, I always ask myself: Who is trying to reach our statement?
It is an important question because it not only tells what we say, but also how we say it and where.
For JCRC, the answer to this question will almost always be that our statement communicates to Greater Boston civic leadership in the public space. This answer means that JCRC’s statements are almost always very different from what other organizations might say at the same time. Our statements are certainly different from organizations that have different roles – for example, organizations that want to influence Israeli dialogue and government decision-making, or organizations that are trying to help members of our Jewish community understand events or personal ones Finding meaning in challenges.
At JCRC, we do not (mainly) try to help the Jewish community understand the current events – although this is often a by-product of our work when community members read our statements. For example, JCRC also has no mandate to tell the Israeli government what we think about Israeli politics – although we are sure to advise its representatives about talks and concerns in our community.
JCRC’s mission is to convey the interests and values of the locally organized Jewish community to the heads of state in the greater Boston area, and to ensure that these concerns are part of the broader public discourse. This mission drives our statements based on one of three starting points:
- As a community, we have deeply rooted values and priorities that our civil partners should listen to, understand and respond to.
- Our allies ask us to hear our voices in solidarity and partnership with them.
- Citizens ask us how our community understands certain issues and concerns that are discussed and discussed in the wider public space.
While our responses always reflect the internal work that we do with our advice and network of agencies to define our values, the first example often leads to decisions where we want to be heard together. This often resulted in JCRC speaking on these issues in a clear and resonant voice – such as our support for our immigrant neighbors. When we respond to our partners seeking solidarity, we speak with a strong voice when we either stand by them or not – and we strive to demonstrate our commitment to that solidarity. In the third category – when JCRC is asked how the Jewish community understands a problem – despite the common values of our community, JCRC can create disagreements and different views of the Jewish community. This diversity of views and disagreements is never more present than in our discussions about Israel.
A blog post might not start to discuss the full complexity of why Israel generates such diverse opinions, but if you check the JCRC statements made during the Iran deal debate or as President Trump’s message and with whom you compare our joint declaration in solidarity with our neighbors with a migrant background in 2017 or the Statement we signed last month with Jewish institutions across New England (organized by ADL) in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movementYou will see how the different criteria we take into account lead to very different statements.
As events develop nationally and internationally in the coming weeks and months, JCRC will make statements on various developments. As you read it, I hope you appreciate who JCRC talks to and why and how these statements were made. (Incidentally, these Friday postings are not primarily intended for this middle-class audience – they should serve to share our work and our approach with our stakeholders.)
Do you also know that JCRC’s statements are a framework for how we understand a moment or topic and that our programmatic work is the real measure we take in line with these values and partnerships. Measures such as the legislative agenda that we have approved and mobilized in recent weeks in relation to racial justice and reform of the criminal justice system; The 70 of our immigrant neighbors were released from custody during this pandemic because of our efforts to raise $ 100,000 in bail. and our continued work through Boston partner for peace Supporting Israelis and Palestinians working together to honor and recognize each other’s dignity and stories as a step towards building a better future for both peoples.
Words are important and we have a duty to explain to you how and when we use words. But actions are just as important, if not more. With your continued support and partnership, JCRC will continue to advocate and promote the interests and values of the organized Jewish community in Boston’s bourgeois space regardless of new issues or conversations that may arise.
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