2018-01-17 / Columns

Saying goodbye as your JCRC director, but always staying involved

JCRC Executive Director

For those of you who have been regular readers of my column, thank you for taking the time to learn about the important and impactful work of our Jewish Community Relations Council. During my tenure over the past eight years I have had the privilege of serving as the executive director of one of the most relevant and effective agencies within the Federation system. At a time when Israel advocacy, combating anti- Semitism, and building relationships not only within but also outside of the Jewish community are as vital as ever, I am proud to have been able to be a part of these efforts. With mixed emotions, I’m looking forward to my new position as executive director of Maccabi USA. I will continue to remain an active member of our South Jersey Jewish community.

I have had the pleasure of being involved with programs and events over the years where our agency has hosted such notable individuals as Senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, Governor Chris Christie, Congressmen John Adler, Donald Norcross and Tom MacArthur, Ambassador John Bolton, Professor Alan Dershowitz, several Israel Consul Generals, state legislators, mayors, chiefs of police, and numerous other international speakers, journalists and diplomats.

Our Middle East Institute, now in its 49th year, has grown into one of the largest annual gatherings of the pro-Israel community in South Jersey. Our BookMates program has expanded from under 20 schools to now close to 40, while helping hundreds of underserved children each year. Our Esther Raab Holocaust Museum & Goodwin Education Center continues to provide close to 200 programs annually that teach the lessons of the Holocaust in the hopes of combating bigotry, hatred and prejudice of all forms for the next generation. Our Israel Advocacy Initiative works to promote all the positive contributions Israel makes to the world, with a continued focus on educating our local teens, college students and young adults.

The meaningful and life-changing work of our JCRC has been accomplished through a combination of hard work and thoughtful prioritizing of resources led by dozens if not hundreds of dedicated volunteers. There are too many to list by name, but I do want to express my sincere appreciation for the incredible leadership and vision exhibited by the presidents I have worked with; Vicki Zell, Jonathan Korn, Myra Gutin, Amy Clayman and Marcia Baruch. Our community is so fortunate to have had these individuals at the helm during numerous challenging and difficult times. Just a few examples that come to mind are when members of the Westboro Baptist Church came to town to spew their hateful homophobic, racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric; the controversy surrounding the Iran Nuclear Agreement; combatting the growing insidiousness of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement; and too many school-based, anti-Semitic incidents to count.

As this is my last column as executive director of the JCRC, I want to end where I started with these pieces, which is to encourage each and every one of you who cares about the vitality, security and continuity of our strong Jewish community to inquire how you can do your small (or large) part in helping maintain it.

Send an email to jcrcofsnj@jfedsnj.org with a subject line that reads, “How can I help our Jewish community?” 

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