JCPA Honors Outgoing President, Advocate for Disability Rights, and Local Federation Leader Philanthropist at Annual Town Hall Meeting.

by Jared Feldman

Washington D.C. – Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) is honoring outgoing President Rabbi Steve Gutow on his ten years of service, and presenting Disabilities Advocate Vivian Bass and local Jewish community leader and philanthropist Stuart Kurlander with the Tikkun Olam award at its annual Town Hall meeting on Sunday October 11. 

During his ten years leading JCPA, Rabbi Steve Gutow has devoted countless hours to fostering relationships with our partners and working tirelessly towards a good and just world through an unwavering and profound quest for Tikkun Olam. Almost all of his efforts have included an interfaith component. He has helped JCPA become one of the leading interfaith organizations in American Jewish life. Steve launched JCPA’s groundbreaking Civility Initiative which brings together the disparate voices of our community in the metaphorical Jewish communal tent and helps us to have complicated conversations, even on the most controversial issues. He has been an advocate for a secure and peaceful Israel. During his tenure, JCPA co-founded the Israel Action Network (IAN) in partnership with Jewish Federations of North America. IAN has quickly become a leading voice responding to the assaults on Israel’s legitimacy including the BDS movement. Steve has also been at the forefront of anti-genocide work, including the Save Darfur movement.

His other work has included vigorous support of the Jewish Community’s core domestic values launching initiatives on immigration reform, countering gun violence, and campaigns to counter poverty. He was among the first Jewish leaders to take on the food stamp challenge, for which he lived for a week only on food stamps, and he created JCPA’s annual hunger Seder, using the holiday of Passover to advance awareness of hunger in America.

Steve has brought the JCPA into a leadership position on environmental action nationally and within the Jewish community. He currently serves as Chair of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. He is also a member of the Moment Us Faith Executive Committee that helped create and launch its Blessed Tomorrow Program, a coalition of diverse American faith leaders committed to “walking more gently on the earth and inspiring others to lead on climate solutions.” For his leadership, Steve has been chosen as one of the 50 most influential American rabbis three times by Newsweek and the 50 most influential American Jews by The Forward. We will celebrate this distinguished record of achievement by creating a special session for future JCPA conferences named in his honor, the Rabbi Steve Gutow Partners in Faith Forum.

Vivian Bass has dedicated over 30 years to improving the quality of life, dignity, and independence of individuals with disabilities. Her tireless advocacy led to leadership in several Jewish organizations including The Jewish Foundation for Group Homes. This organization, which provides services to adults, now serves a model for 25 communities across the globe. Her advocacy and dedication to Tikkun Olam continues with leadership roles in other communal organizations such Jewish Women International and the JCPA.

Stuart Kurlander’s boundless commitment to Israel and the Washington, D.C. Jewish community is evidenced in his leadership position as past President of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and as a member of the Executive Committee of the American Joint Distribution Committee. Currently, he is Founder and Chair of the Kurlander Program on Gay and Lesbian Outreach and Engagement at the District of Columbia Jewish Community Center. Stuart Kurlander’s dedication to community activism demonstrates that Tikkun Olam often begins in our own communities.  

The JCPA Plenum, this year called the Jewish Community Town Hall, will be October 10-13, in Washington D.C. Registration for the Town Hall began on Wednesday, July 22. 

To find out more information about the Town Hall, please visit www.jcpaplenum.org.

JCPA, the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community, serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 16 national and 125 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations


About the Author


Jared Feldman