The JCRC has been in conversation with our national and local partners, including the Israel Action Network (IAN), to discuss the best way to respond to legal challenges to the Texas Anti-BDS bill (85th Legislature: House Bill 89). In partnership with the IAN and other local and national Jewish organizations, the JCRC has supported the filing of a follow-up bill this session, which is intended to tweak the existing Anti-BDS law to make some clarifications on enforcement of the existing law. This year’s bill clarifies that the anti-boycott statute is a commerce issue and not an infringement on any individual’s free speech rights. The new bill also eliminates applicability to sole proprietorships to show that this is not about individual content, but rather about government contracts using tax-payer funds.
Additionally, the JCRC worked with the leadership of Dallas Women’s March, urging them to make a statement disassociating themselves from the national Women’s March, whose leadership has been publicly exposed to be clearly and historically anti-Semitic. On January 1st, they posted a statement on their Facebook page.
On January 30, more than 150 Jewish community members from throughout Texas participated in a one-day advocacy mission to the Texas State Capitol. The program was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, in partnership with the Jewish Federations of Austin, Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Houston and San Antonio. Jewish community members traveled to Austin to educate and advocate on issues important to all of us. Priority issues included support for Israel, support for local social services partner agencies, and access to quality early learning for all children.
As the only full-time JCRC in the state of Texas, the Dallas JCRC brings leadership and expertise in programming, like Day at the State, to support public policy and social issues that are important to the Dallas community. Thank you all who joined us!
The JCRC and the Jewish community achieved a huge win in November 2018, when the Texas State Board of Education voted to adopt guidelines supported by the Jewish community to teach about the Arab-Israeli conflict and the geopolitical history in the Middle East. JCRC staff has been working with the Institute of Curriculum Services (ICS), based in San Francisco, to monitor the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) and their updating of the Social Studies Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
In November 2018, the SBOE met for a final vote on the Social Studies TEKS standards. When SBOE received public comments from a coalition opposing the language: “Explain how Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict”, the JCRC spearheaded a collaborative community response from individuals and Federations all across Texas. The final vote was held on November 16, and the following language was adopted: “Discuss factors contributing to the Arab-Israeli conflict, including the rejection of the existence of the State of Israel by the Arab League and a majority of Arab nations.”
This modification of the original sentence in the guidelines was a consensus agreement among Board members, responding to the heated public input on various options concerning the final language. The Dallas JCRC and Federation were consulted and the adopted language is supported by the Jewish Federations throughout Texas, including the Dallas Federation.
This was a significant success. The TEKS determine the content of textbooks produced for Texas school districts and those textbooks are purchased and utilized by 34 other states in the U.S. Therefore, this has an enormous impact on what students across the country learn about Israel and the Middle East.
More than 60 leaders from the Dallas-area Jewish and Latino communities gathered for the Jewish/Latino Leadership Dinner in October 2018. The event was hosted by the JCRC and the Consulate of Israel to the Southwest, partnering with the Latino Center for Leadership Development (LCLD). The dinner was held in association with the Israel Consulate’s “One Table, Two Families” initiative, which brings together leadership from the Latino and Jewish communities.
The program featured a presentation by Rosemary Hinojosa of the City of Dallas Landmark Commission and the Dallas Mexican American Historical League Board of Directors. She spoke on the history and evolution of the local Mexican-American community, including unique historical connections between the local Jewish and Mexican communities. Bradley Laye, CEO and president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, spoke briefly on the history of the local Jewish community.
Following opening remarks, an engaging discussion was led by a panel, including JCRC vice chair Cindy Sweet Mosowitz; Federation immediate past board chair Dan Prescott; Dallas Municipal Judge Paula Rosales; and Miguel Solis, Dallas ISD school board member and president of the LCLD.
In 2016, the JCRC brought together leadership of the Jewish and Latino communities in Dallas to establish the Dallas Jewish Latino Coalition. The mission of the coalition is to provide opportunities for cross-cultural education between the Jewish and Latino communities, to help develop leadership in both sectors, and to encourage awareness on a variety of social action initiatives. The JCRC’s goal in staffing the coalition is to increase Latino connection to and support of Israel.
In November, community members attended an evening program at the home of Howard and JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin to learn about the work of the JCRC. Edwin Flores, President of the Dallas ISD Board of Trustees, spoke about the JCRC’s work in promoting access to quality early learning, along with mentioning his recent trip to Israel. Ben Levkovich, a Senior at Yavneh Academy and member of the JCRC’s Teen Advisory Council, spoke about the JCRC’s impact on youth education about Israel and his gratitude for the Federation’s support.
Almas Muscatwalla, Executive Director of Faith Forward Dallas and member of the Ismaili Muslim community, shared her admiration for the Annual JCRC Interfaith Seder and overall positive relationship with the Jewish community through the JCRC.Prompted by the positive response to the program, the JCRC has created an opportunity for those who wish to become more engaged with and to support the JCRC: a JCRC Ambassadors group. There is no financial commitment, and a very minimal time commitment. If you would like to learn more, please contact the JCRC at email@example.com.
Community leaders attended an education briefing in October 2018 hosted by the Early Learning Committee of the JCRC. The event, Maintaining a Vibrant Dallas: The Economic Impact of Early Childhood Education, Continuing the Conversation, featured Dr. Edwin Flores and Dan Micciche, President and Vice President, respectively, of the Dallas Independent School District Board of Trustees to speak about the progress and advancements of the school district in recent years.
The JCRC’s Early Learning Committee seeks to educate our Jewish community about poverty in Dallas, engage the Jewish community as a stakeholder, and promote quality early childhood education as an important solution.
The JCRC-staffed Israel Advocacy and Education Committee partnered with Anshai Torah and the UNT Department of Jewish Studies to host an open, community-wide speaker event in October, featuring Mark Yudof, Emeritus Chancellor of the University of Texas, Emeritus President of the University of California network and Chair of the Advisory Board of the Academic Engagement Network.
Yudof spoke about the BDS movement on campuses, intersectionality and how the Jewish community is training students, professors and University administrators to defend against illegal attacks against Israel. The JCRC also underwrote a private dinner with Yudof for community leadership prior to the public program.
In November, in partnership with the JCC Bookfest, the JCRC hosted Reverend Michael Waters to discuss his book, Stakes is High. In conversation with Rabbi Adam Roffman, Rev. Waters discussed how he “blends hip-hop lyricism and social justice leadership, creating an urgent voice demanding that America listen to the suffering if it hopes to redeem its soul.”
In October, the JCRC helped convene a delegation of Dallas Jewish community members to attend the Night to Honor Israel, hosted by Pastors Terri and George Pearsons at Eagle Mountain International Church near Fort Worth.
The event, which celebrates the relationship between the Evangelical Christian and Jewish communities and their mutual connection to Israel, is a fundraising event for several Israeli charities and non-profits. The event this year raised $200,000 for the Galilee Medical Center.
The JCRC and Federation have enjoyed a relationship with Pastors Terri and George Pearsons for several years. Pastor Terri spoke at the Federation’s Dallas Stands with Israel Rally in July 2014, and the couple attended the JCRC’s interfaith luncheon welcoming new Israeli Consul General Eitan Levon in May 2015.
In October, the JCRC hosted a poverty simulation experience for LEADS class participants. The educational session was hands-on and provided insight on some of the work of the JCRC. JCRC Executive Director, Anita Zusman Eddy, provided a brief overview of the JCRC to the class. The JCRC received positive feedback from YAD leadership.
In November, synagogues, churches, mosques and religious organizations across Dallas came together to share faith and inspiration. This community-wide service was hosted by Congregation Shearith Israel, Dallas Masjid Al-Islam, Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square, First United Methodist Church, Interfaith Council, the JCRC, Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, St. Rita Catholic Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Thanks-Giving Foundation and University Park United Methodist Church. The service included music and brief spiritual reflections from a variety of faith backgrounds. Donations were collected for the North Texas Food Bank.
In December, the JCRC partnered with Communities Foundation of Texas to host a Cause-Minded Conversation to explore “The Role of Faith Communities in Addressing Equity and Inclusion.” Reverend Starsky D. Wilson spoke, followed by a panel discussion with local faith leaders from multiple faith traditions on the role that faith-based institutions can play in addressing issues related to fairness and equity.
The Israel Advocacy and Education Committee (formerly known as the Combatting BDS Initiative Committee), staffed by the JCRC, was awarded a $20,000 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.