A Changing Political Environment Brings a Strategic Reset for Esteemed Public Affairs Organization
New York, NY – Today, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) announced a major organizational reset at a crucial time, with the American Jewish community facing a series of growing challenges across the country. JCPA going forward will be a national convener of Jewish coalitions working to build a just and inclusive America – bringing together many local and national Jewish community relations and advocacy organizations in common cause with other diverse communities.
JCPA will represent a strong independent voice within the American Jewish community on issues aimed at strengthening our democracy and commitment to an inclusive and just society out of the belief that such conditions are essential in a pluralistic society and for the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel. The reset takes place against a backdrop of rising antisemitism, racism, bigotry and hate, and polarization, and continued threats to our democracy.
To meet this moment and future challenges, the JCPA will have these priorities:
- Convene two national Jewish coalitions working in common cause with the non-Jewish community to ensure a strong democracy and a just and inclusive American society – with an opt-in approach for engaging and mobilizing communities, national organizations and individuals;
- Create a new trendspotting department to identify emerging issues and demographic trends of importance to our community;
- Apply a fresh and nimble set of communications and policy resources on issues identified by JCPA as priorities;
- Provide strategic community relations guidance and engagement opportunities on JCPA-focused issues.
The new model recognizes the emergence of new Jewish organizations along with the importance of long-established organizations engaged in public policy and community relations and seeks to strengthen our collective civic and intergroup relations engagement.
“These are difficult and unprecedented times for American Jewry. We are making these changes because we believe they are needed to meet this moment,” said David Bohm, JCPA Board Chair and leader of the Restructuring Team that conceptualized this reset. “Now is the time for the American Jewish community to increase its voice and impact by dramatically expanding our civic and intergroup engagement with an effective and increasingly strategic network that mobilizes advocates, including through Jewish Community Relations Councils (JCRCs) and national organizations. As we succeed in advancing a just and inclusive society, the security and well-being of all, including the Jewish community and Israel will be greatly enhanced,” Bohm added.
JCPA has a 78-year history as a national convenor, coalition builder, and policy advocate on a wide range of issues. JCPA has traditionally operated on a consensus model among 125 national JCRCs and 16 National Jewish organizations. In today’s political climate, however, consensus is harder to obtain and assert on an across-the-nation basis. The JCPA is moving from a consensus and general membership model to the coalition model where policy will be driven and overseen by the JCPA Board working closely with coalition members.
Forging a new strategic path for the JCPA was the product of an extensive process. 5 Large City Jewish Federation Executives, 4 JCRC Directors, 2 representatives from Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), and 8 JCPA Board Members constituted the Restructuring Team. The outcome was this new strategic reset and a vision for success. The Restructuring Initiative was supported through grants from several major Jewish Federations and the One8 Foundation.
“At a time of rising hate, antisemitism, growing division over what constitutes fact and truth, assaults on Israel’s legitimacy, strains in American Jewish-Israel relations, continued threats to our democracy and polarization within and beyond the Jewish community, the outcome of the Restructuring Team’s work reflected a shared understanding that a strong, strategic, and independent JCPA is more important than ever and that the organizational model of JCPA had to change,” stated Rabbi Doug Kahn, project consultant.
Along with the organizational reset, the JCPA today announced three major philanthropic gifts to help the organization pivot to its new approach and to help ensure its sustainability. These lead grants include a three-year commitment by UJA Federation of New York, and significant gifts from JCPA Chair David Bohm and JCPA Past Chair and Restructuring Team member Lois Frank.
Lois Frank commented, “I went into the process not sure where it would lead and came out of it believing that the restructuring plan will enhance JCPA’s work, that JCPA’s unique role among the panoply of national Jewish organizations is compelling, and its success is essential for the future of American Jewry. My hope is others – when they learn about our reset – will step up their support as well.”
“As the issues facing the Jewish community continue to be increasingly complex, this newly scaled iteration of JCPA is appropriately positioned to leverage and capitalize on the community relations network that is crucial to our work,” stated Eric Goldstein, CEO, UJA-Federation of New York.
“This is a huge moment for the American Jewish public affairs community. A more tightly focused JCPA will collaborate with other national Jewish organizations committed to common goals and develop enhanced resources to help local communities be effective actors on priority issues which are of concern to many American Jews. We couldn’t be more excited to see what happens now,” added Michael Fromm, JCPA’s Immediate Past Chair.
“For my 28 years as head of the JCRC in Portland, Oregon, we have always valued JCPA’s guidance and national policymaking. With JCPA 2.0 there will be real change along with new ways to engage – for example participating in the national coalitions and in-depth trend analysis – that will benefit communities small and large across the country,” noted Bob Horenstein, JCRC Director Portland and member of the Restructuring Team.
A national search for the first CEO of the new JCPA has been launched.
The role of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) is to strengthen and leverage the Jewish community relations network across the nation to champion a just, democratic and pluralistic society and advance the right of full inclusion of all members of our society, including Jews, free of discrimination hate and prejudice.
Inspired by Jewish values of human dignity and equal justice under the law and an abiding commitment to vibrant and secure Jewish communities here, Israel and throughout the world, JCPA convenes and catalyzes its network to work with public officials and build deep relations and engage in advocacy coalitions based on shared goals with other civic, racial, ethnic and faith-based leaders and communities.