JCPA2018 Annual Conference Calls for Strengthened Jewish Community Engagement to Build a Strong Democratic America and Israel

New York, NY —  More than 250 Jewish community relations leaders came together April 22-24 in New York to tackle today’s most pressing issues. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ (JCPA) three day Conference closed today with a call to action for the Jewish community to work in coalition with the diverse vulnerable communities who are working on common causes: building a strong democracy and countering discrimination at the national and local levels.

JCPA is the network hub of 125 Jewish community relations councils and 16 national agencies collectively responsible for national public affairs and intergroup relations. Backed by an unparalleled capacity to mobilize grassroots Jewish activism, we educate and activate our network. Conference co-chairs are Michael Fromm, Pennsylvania and Shelley Nicely Groff, Miami.  “We know this conference is just the beginning,” said Groff in her end-of-conference remarks. “When we go home is when the work starts.”

In efforts to modernize and maintain our innovative edge, JCPA, at the conference, adopted new bylaws that reduced the size of JCPA’s Board of Directors and created a new Delegates Assembly that will be the strengthened deliberative body on public policy matters.

“While it’s never easy to reach consensus with 125 JCRCs and 16 national agencies,” says David Bernstein, president and CEO of JCPA. “We were successful in articulating new policy positions on three important issues.”

JCPA 2018 Passed Three New Resolutions:

  • Resolution on White Supremacy: Rejects white supremacy and all other forms of bigotry, and affirms the importance of exposing and rejecting the hateful message of white supremacists as well as our obligation to protect and support all targets of white supremacist harassment and attacks.
  • Resolution Reaffirming Commitment to Racial Justice Within the Jewish Community: In the current climate of emboldened discrimination and significant challenges to racial equity in society, we reaffirm and recommit to the pursuit of racial equity and justice. Therefore, JCPA resolves to establish a Task Force on Racial Equity to study and promote steps our institutions can take to pursue racial justice and inclusion within the Jewish community.
  • Resolution on Israeli-Palestinian Coexistence: Expresses the Jewish community’s support for Israeli-Palestinian coexistence initiatives.

The main theme throughout the Conference plenaries and workshops, regardless of session topic, was strengthening civic engagement work, which includes strong voter education during primaries, getting out the vote, serving in public offices, amplifying the voices of those more vulnerable and disconnected from power structures, and enhancing local training.

Below are some of the JCPA2018 Plenary Sessions that were broadcast via FacebookLive:

  • From Anger to Action: Ending Gun Violence in America” with Ryan & Matt Deitsch (March for our Lives, Parkland activists)
  • “The State of American Democracy” with Bill Kristol and William Galston
  • “Amplifying Jewish Voices in Civic Spaces” with Ruth Messinger, Stephanie Ruskay, Alisa Zelman Finsten and Meir Lakein
  • “Israel @ 70!” with Consul General of Israel in NY, Dani Dayan, Malcolm Hoenlein and Marlene Post.
  • “Trans Rights is a Jewish Issue; Why Antisemitism is a Trans Issue” with Mara Keisling (National Center for Transgender Equality)

The Chair’s Awards Dinner presented Floyd Abrams with the Chernin Award, Susan K. Stern and Rabbi Rachel Ain each with the Tikkun Olam award, and honored Cheryl FIshbein for her outstanding role as JCPA Chair.

The Conference ended with a call to action to convene shared tables to work across difference in the Jewish community of wide diverse opinions aimed at healing our relationships and reaffirming shared goals and mission.  “I believe that we Jews already have the tools to respond to today’s challenges,” says JCPA Chair Cheryl Fishbein. “And I believe that JCPA is the organization to bring consensus to the Jewish people both locally and globally.”