On March 22, the JCRC hosted its 6th Annual JCRC Interfaith Seder at Congregation Shearith Israel. More than 500 community members, among them faith and civic leaders, attended the Seder this year, setting a new attendance record. The evening’s program began with a special performance by The Potter’s House Church Choir and was co-led by Rabbi Elana Zelony of Congregation Beth Torah and Bishop Edward J. Burns of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas.
In addition to the Seder leaders, 32 individuals participated in reading and writing parts of the Haggadah, which was reworked to fit this year’s theme of honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. April 4th marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. King.
The JCRC has received tremendously positive feedback from attendees regarding the event, which garnered coverage in the Sunday, March 25 Metro section of the Dallas Morning News. This year’s JCRC Interfaith Seder has been called “moving,” “inspirational,” “full of hope,” “unifying,” and an event that “served Dr. King’s legacy well.” For more photos from the JCRC Interfaith Seder, check out our Facebook page.
Read more about the event in the TJP here...
“It is events like these that reminds us of the important role our JCRC continues to play in making our community better and better. Congratulations.”
-Mark Kreditor, Jewish Federation Board Chair
“Yasher koach and mazel tov on an amazing event! Thank you for all the outreach you do in our community to help us build good relationships with our neighbors. It was an honor to participate.”
-Rabbi Elana Zelony, Congregation Beth Torah
“I can't tell you how honored and blessed I felt to be a part. It was a moving night. I won't forget it. Please tell everyone that I am grateful for being welcomed into this important and sacred space.”
-Byron Sanders, President & CEO, Big Thought
“Each year I look forward to sharing with all in the Interfaith Seder. We are all grateful for the annual Interfaith Seder and the work you do in making it happen. I will be there next year.”
–Bishop Michael McKee, United Methodist Church of North Texas
As part of the Federation’s Israel Advocacy and Education Committee (formerly known as the Combatting BDS Initiative Committee), JCRC and Federation leadership met (virtually) with Jewish students and professionals at the University of Texas at Austin in February to learn about what is happening on campus particularly related to anti-BDS and anti-Israel activity.
The meeting also helped to coordinate and convene students and organizations working on these issues in order to ensure effective communication between them, and to offer the resources of the Federation and JCRC to assist in their efforts promoting Israel and opposing anti-Israel sentiment on campus.
The Israel Advocacy and Education Committee also consults with Jewish students and professionals at the University of North Texas, UT Dallas, and Texas A&M University. The Israel Advocacy and Education Committee is co-chaired by Hylton Jonas and Ruthy Rosenberg, and staffed by the JCRC.
In addition to supporting our college students, the JCRC has established a Teen Advisory Council (TAC) to provide feedback on local teen programming, such as the Community Teen Havdalah held last December. Teens serving on the Advisory Council are from various schools, synagogues, and youth groups, including StandWithUs interns.
“I loved serving on the TAC!!” shared Zach Denn, a Senior graduating from Yavneh Academy. As more students are graduating and a new year beginning in the Fall, the JCRC is looking for teenagers to serve on next year's Teen Advisory Council. If you know any teenagers who may be interested, please let us know by writing to JCRC Project Manager Kim Kort at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The JCRC reached out to Senator John Cornyn and Senator Ted Cruz to request their backing of a congressional effort in support of the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program. The Holocaust Survivor Assistance program is a public-private partnership between the DHHS Administration for Community Living, the Jewish Federations of North America’s Center for Advancing Holocaust Survivor Care, and others to better address the unique needs of the country’s aging Holocaust survivor population.
In April, JCRC volunteers participated in Good Deeds Day. Volunteers painted murals at the outdoor playground of the Catholic Charities Cardinal Farrell Community Center in South Dallas. The JCRC’s work to fight multi-generational poverty includes advocating for effective solutions, educating our community about poverty in Dallas, and facilitating service opportunities for community members to make an impact in the greater Dallas community. To learn more about JCRC’s Education Initiative, visit jewishdallas.org/jcrcei.
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.