The JCRC hosted its 7th Annual Interfaith Seder on April 9 at Congregation Shearith Israel. With 80 attendees in its first year, this year’s JCRC Interfaith Seder set a record attendance with 580 attendees. The Seder was led by Rabbi Ari Sunshine of Congregation Shearith Israel and Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Planning Committee Chairs were Mandy Golman and Reverend Damon L. Blakeley of Saint Paul A.M.E. Church. This year’s Seder theme, Building Community Together, brought together faith leaders, elected officials, and community members from diverse backgrounds.
"For seven years now, the JCRC has brought together the interfaith community of the Greater Dallas area. Together, we experience a community interfaith Seder based on a traditional Jewish Passover Seder and reflect on meaningful and relevant issues,” remarked Melanie Rubin, JCRC Chair. “The program motivates and inspires us all towards self-reflection, awareness of important issues, building relationships with one another, and social action in our Dallas community and beyond.”
To view photos from the event, visit the JCRC’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jcrcdallas.
“Congrats to all on what is now the place to be each spring in ecumenical interfaith Dallas.”
A.J. Rosmarin, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Board-Chair
“[The JCRC Interfaith Seder is] the most important interfaith experience of the year.”
Bishop Michael McKee, North Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church of North Texas
“It’s a highlight of this time of year to participate in the JCRC Interfaith Seder. Love the experience of coming together worshiping and celebrating.”
Councilmember Adam McGough, Dallas City Council
“The Interfaith Seder is one of the most important events I attend in the entire year.”
Almas Muscatwalla, Executive Director of the Interfaith Council at Thanks Giving Square
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson
“[The JCRC Interfaith Seder] has become quickly the interfaith gathering of the year in the Greater Dallas area bringing together Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, and many other groups in our increasingly diverse community.”
Bishop Erik Gronberg, Lutheran Church in America
“It was such a fabulous unity event. I learned and at the same time got the opportunity to be part of a unified community in prayer. Thank you for the opportunity. As a public servant I really treasure events like this.”
Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia
Dallas Mayoral Run-Off Candidates Forum
On May 23rd, more than 300 community members attended the JCRC’s City of Dallas Mayoral Run-off Candidates Forum. Event co-chairs were JCRC Executive Committee members Dawn Strauss and Jim Tolbert. The forum was moderated by Sam Baker, Morning Edition Host & Senior Editor at KERA News, and recorded for re-broadcast. Photos from the forum were used in three different newsletters of the Dallas Morning News with mention of the JCRC. To view photos from the program, click here to visit the JCRC’s Facebook page.
The forum was held in partnership with AJC Dallas, Congregation Anshai Torah, Congregation Beth Torah, Congregation Nishmat Am, Congregation Ohr HaTorah, Congregation Shearith Israel, Hadassah, the Jewish/Latino Alliance, National Council of Jewish Women, Southwest Jewish Congress, Temple Emanu-El, and Temple Shalom.
Responding to recent issues affecting the Jewish Community
Following anti-Semitic remarks made by Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, the JCRC issued the following statement to our congressional representatives:
The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and its Jewish Community Relations Council condemns Anti-Semitism in all its forms, along with demonstrations of hatred and bigotry of all kinds.
The fabric of our society is weakened when our elected and other leadership give public voice lending any semblance of credibility to spurious statements rooted in Anti-Semitism and other baseless prejudices.
We urge our State and national leadership to finalize and pass the House Resolution denouncing Anti-Semitism as contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.
In December 2018, the JCRC reached out to our congressional representatives urging support for the IMPROVE Act, (H.R. 7217), which includes funding to renew the Money Follows the Person (MFP) program. The MFP program helps people with disabilities and older adults live in their communities. Many clients of our Jewish Federation partner agencies that provide home- and community-based services to older adults and people with disabilities benefit from the MFP program.
In recent months, we have urged our congressional representatives to support the Never Again Education Act (H.R. 943), which is proposed federal legislation that would authorize the U.S. Secretary of Education to award grants to educational entities to carry out Holocaust education programs and conduct periodic workshops to provide teachers with technical assistance on how to most effectively teach Holocaust education. The Never Again Education Act would authorize some public funding ($2 million per year) and the collection of private donations in a classic public-private partnership to provide teachers with the resources and training they need to teach children the important lessons of the Holocaust.
Advocacy on Texas Anti-BDS Law
In 2017, following advocacy efforts led by the JCRC, Governor Abbott signed into law the Texas Anti-BDS Bill. Since enactment, legal challenges to the law have arisen due to misapplication. As such, Representative Phil King (R-Weatherford) introduced the Anti-BDS clean-up bill (H.B. 793) in the current State Legislative Session, which was signed by the Governor in early May 2019. This is following state-wide Jewish Federation advocacy efforts led by the JCRC. It is our hope that all lawsuits challenging the original bill will now be deemed without cause.
Following advocacy efforts led by the JCRC, the state of Texas blacklisted Airbnb for its decision to removing listings of rooms and homes for rent in the West Bank Jewish settlements. This was pursuant the Texas Anti-BDS Bill passed in 2017. Ultimately, Airbnb has rescinded their policy and will not delist those properties.
Pro-Israel Advocacy & Education for High School Students
In April, Kate Chavez, StandWithUs Southwest High School Coordinator, visited Dallas to speak to teens at both Greenhill School and Yavneh Academy. In her role at StandWithUs, Kate educates teens to strengthen connection to Israel and support teens on their Israel education journey. On her visit to Dallas, Kate discussed topics including Antisemitism vs. legitimate criticism of Israel and how to use a personal narrative with Israel when speaking with others to dispel misconceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Kate spoke to about 50 students during her visit to Dallas.
Part of the mission of the Federation/JCRC Israel Education and Advocacy Committee is to educate local teens about responding to potential BDS and anti-Israel activity on campus. Kate’s trip was sponsored by a grant from the Federation’s Planning and Allocation Committee to provide teens and college students with Israel advocacy training and programming. The Israel Advocacy and Education Committee is co-chaired by Hylton Jonas and Ruthy Rosenberg.
Public School Teachers Workshop on Arab-Israeli Conflict
In June, the JCRC partnered with the Institute for Curriculum Services (ICS) to host its Summer Institute in Frisco. The Summer Institute is a 2-day, intensive exploration of the Arab-Israeli conflict through the use of a multitude of primary sources, ICS-produced videos, expert lecturers, and deep discussion. External evaluation has demonstrated the impact of the Summer Institute on increasing teacher knowledge and confidence to teach this topic. Around 20 Social Studies teachers attended this in-depth workshop, which provided them with the support and knowledge they need to effectively teach the Arab-Israeli conflict in their classrooms.
JCRC Hosts Richardson ISD Parents Meeting
In February, the JCRC hosted a program for parents of Jewish students in Richardson ISD to meet with RISD leadership. The JCRC hosts these meetings in various school districts as part of the JCRC Education Initiative, which aims to Read More...ensure accuracy of Jews, Judaism and Israel in educational resources, as well as to support Jewish students in public schools.
The program featured a presentation and remarks by RISD Superintendent Dr. Jeannie Stone and RISD Board of Trustees President Justin Bono. The program was attended by close to 50 parents, and provided an opportunity for an important discussion between parents and school district leadership on issues relevant to ensuring a safe and successful environment for Jewish students to thrive in public schools.
JCRC Hosts Poverty Simulation with Federation Young Adults Division
In March, the JCRC hosted a poverty simulation experience for the Leadership Development Group (LDG) in partnership with YAD and Jewish Family Service. The educational session was hands-on and provided insight on some of the work of the JCRC. The JCRC received positive feedback from YAD leadership.
JCRC reaches out to local Muslim community in response to attacks in New Zealand
In response to the attacks in March in New Zealand at two mosques where 49 people were killed and 20 seriously injured, JCRC staff reached out directly to five local Muslim leaders with whom we have good relationships and who lead major mosques or Muslim organizations in North Texas. The JCRC and Federation posted statements to our Facebook, and JCRC and Federation staff attended a service at the North Texas Islamic Center in Richardson, one of the largest Mosques in the Dallas area. Federation professional leadership also made remarks at a multi-faith vigil service at the North Texas Islamic Center in Richardson.
Cindy Sweet Moskowitz, Chair
Melanie Rubin, Immediate Past Chair
Dr. Craig Rosenfeld
Rabbi Ari Sunshine
The JCRC thanks Melanie for her leadership over the past 3 years!