2016-03-30 / Columns

JCRC building bridges between South Jersey and Israel in many ways

COMMUNITY COMMENTARY
DAVID SNYDER
JCRC Executive Director

Some of my favorite conversations are with JCRC colleagues from around the country who call to ask if they can “get my notes” about a particular Israel-oriented program or event we put on that they heard about via our professional listserve.

Unfortunately, I often have to share with them the sobering news that the secret to our JCRC’s success over the last few years has less to do with a particular speaker or specific program but rather with us having an incredibly talented and dedicated group of board, lay and community members all helping plan, support and implement our agenda as it relates to connecting our community to Israel.

I want to share with you a few of the ways our JCRC had been and will continue to be bringing Israel a bit closer to home here in South Jersey.

A few weeks back, we hosted the first session of our 4th annual three-part Teen Israel Advocacy training program. In partnership with StandWithUs, BBYO and all the Jewish youth groups in the area, over 90 teens took part—easily besting our best attendance ever. Two more sessions remain, including this Sunday, Apr. 3 and Sunday, Apr. 17.

Once again, our agency has entered into a yearlong licensing agreement with JerusalemU.org which entitles every Jewish and pro-Israel organization in South Jersey to receive their full educational film course library. Most of the area synagogues and day schools have benefited from this partnership. Has yours?

Our agency recently hosted its 47th Annual Middle East Institute, where keynote speaker Frank Luntz brought his “Words that Work” presentation to our community for the first time. It is always nice when people leave one of our programs expressing that what they learned will assist them in future Israel advocacy efforts.

But nothing beats simply being there.

I just returned a few weeks ago from the Second New Jersey State Legislators Study Mission to Israel sponsored by the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations and several JCRCs within the state. You can learn a lot what people are thinking when they think you are sleeping during a long bus ride from Jerusalem to the Golan Heights.

Among the comments I heard were:

“Honey, I am so sorry that you did not come with me.”

“I have not felt unsafe in the least.”

“I am definitely bringing us back here so you can see how amazing [Israel] is.”

The pride I felt hearing these comments from local members of our delegation was immense. In addition to local Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, Federation board member and mission co-chair, our South Jersey delegation included Senator Jim Beach, Assemblyman Herb Conaway, Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera, Assemblywoman Patricia Jones and Rabbi Avi Richler from Chabad of Gloucester County.

In just a few weeks, I will be joined by members of our local clergy along with other civic leaders as part of a collaborative program with the Philadelphia JCRC about addressing the growing anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Later this spring, we will be hosting a screening of the new film “Mekonen: The Journey of an African Jew.” This mini-documentary follows the personal journey of a young African-Israeli Jewish soldier as he returns to Africa to explore his roots, make peace with his past and embrace his future in Israel.

If you or perhaps someone you know would be interested in learning more about any of the programs or resources mentioned, please have them reach out to me at dsnyder@jfedsnj.org or give me a call at (856) 673-2524.

In addition, we would love to hear about what programs or topics are of interest to you, so please be in touch and help us continue to bring Israel home. 

dsnyder@jfedsnj.org

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