In December, more than 150 teens gathered at the Aaron Family JCC for the first-ever Community Teen Havdalah hosted by the JCRC. The program began with a Havdalah service and singing led by the beloved-by-teens music team of Eric and Happie (Eric Hunker and Happie Hoffman), followed by an Israel education and advocacy training led by professional Israel advocates. The program, titled Israel on Campus: A Reality Check, is an interactive Israel advocacy program that follows modeled civil discourse on issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and showcases effective and ineffective conversational skills. Event partners included all local synagogues, Jewish youth groups, StandWithUs and the Israel Action Network of the Jewish Federations of North America. The event was made possible by a grant by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
In September, in response to numerous community member requests, the JCRC convened leadership from a number of Jewish organizations and the Rabbinic Association of Greater Dallas to discuss the desire for a unified “Jewish communal statement” in response to anti-Semitic and racist statements and actions coming out of the incident in Charlottesville and afterwards in 2017. A message and image of hope, health, happiness, and peace was created and disseminated to all organizations in our Jewish community to send out to their constituencies, and also to post on social media, as part of their 5778 Rosh Hashanah message.
In October, the JCRC organized a meeting between the new Israeli Consul General, Gilad Katz, and the Rabbinic Association of Greater Dallas (RAGD) for a dialogue and discussion on issues important to the RAGD. Following this meeting, an interfaith lunch was held with the Consul General, rabbis, and non-Jewish clergy including Bishop Edward Burns of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, Bishop Erik Gronberg of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELVA), Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Mission Area, and Reverend Dr. Janet DeVries, General Presbyter.
In November, the JCRC hosted a meeting for more than 20 parents of Jewish children in Allen ISD schools. The program featured remarks from the Allen ISD Superintendent, Dr. Scott Niven, and the President of the Allen ISD Board of Trustees, Louise Master. Parents were extremely appreciative for the opportunity to express their concerns and dialogue with ISD leadership on issues such as scheduling homecoming on Yom Kippur (as happened this year). As part of the JCRC public affairs work, the JCRC hosts meetings for parents of Jewish children in various school districts to help connect Jewish families to ISD leadership, as well as to provide resources to help children be successful and Jewish in the public school system.
As a founder and steering committee member of the Anti-Poverty Coalition of Greater Dallas (APC), the JCRC helped organize an event for more than 200 stakeholders, community leaders and members to come together and receive a progress report from Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax on the city’s work and how it has adjusted the city’s priorities and budget to better support efforts to improve the human capitol in our community. Dallas City Manager, T.C. Broadnax, spoke about what has been accomplished since he joined the City of Dallas a year ago, and what he has planned moving forward. His remarks were followed by a panel-led community conversation, moderated by JCRC Executive Director Anita Zusman Eddy, on tackling poverty through a focus on workforce development, financial stability and equity.
The Anti-Poverty Coalition of Greater Dallas is a broad-based coalition focused on building community support for policies and initiatives to improve the financial health of hard-working families. Founded in 2010, the APC is made up of faith communities, social service agencies, foundations, government entities, businesses, and educational organizations. Steering committee members of the Anti-Poverty Coalition of Greater Dallas are the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, Catholic Charities Dallas, CitySquare, Jewish Community Relations Council, National Council of Jewish Women, Texas Hunger Initiative, and United Way. Read more about recent APC work here.
In October, the JCRC hosted Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi, founder of INJAZ Center for the Professionalization of Local Arab Government in Israel and one of the first Arab Fellows at Israel’s Hartman Center in Israel. In partnership with Hillel, the JCRC arranged for Ghaida to speak to Jewish college students at the University of Texas at Dallas, as well as the University of North Texas. As part of the Combatting BDS Initiative, which the JCRC staffs, educational trainings and programs are offered to help our future and current college students effectively defeat or weaken potential campus-based BDS efforts. Ghaida also spoke to JCRC and Jewish Federation lay leadership. Ghaida spoke about the role of Arab leaders in advancing economic development efforts, as well as the visions in Arab society for Jewish-Arab relations in Israel.
The JCRC Education Initiative Task Force, chaired by Debra Levy Fritts, aims to educate about poverty in Dallas, engage the Jewish community as a stakeholder, and promote high quality early childhood education as an important solution to multi-generational poverty. In November, JCRC volunteers read to students at Walnut Hill Elementary as part of the JCRC Education Initiative. In December, JCRC volunteers came together to assemble early education parent-engagement kits for parents and children in the greater Dallas area.
The JCRC has partnered with AJC Dallas to host several recent events. On October 16, the JCRC and AJC Dallas co-hosted AJC Director of Political Outreach Julie Fishman Rayman for a community briefing on the status of pending legislation pertinent to the American Jewish community. On October 24, the JCRC and AJC Dallas hosted the new Israeli Consul General, Gilad Katz, in Dallas for a Community Town Hall meeting. The Consul General spoke about the current trends and importance of relations between the State of Israel and diaspora Jewry. Also, JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin served on a speaking panel at an AJC Jewish-Latino Advocacy Workshop.
On October 15, participants of the Jewish Federation Young Adults Division (YAD) Leadership Engagement and Development Series (LEADS) came together to volunteer at the Catholic Charities Brady Center to serve lunch to homeless individuals living in South Dallas. Through this effort, YAD members learned about the work of the JCRC by participating as interfaith-relationship builders and social-action advocates.