Earlier this year the Senate took the landmark step of passing comprehensive immigration reform with bipartisan support. The House of Representatives, however, has failed to take similar action. And so, since early November, labor, community and religious leaders have been engaged in the “Fast for Families” – a water-only fast in a tent on the National Mall that highlights the moral urgency of immigration reform. Their sacrifice is designed, as prominent faster Eliseo Medina said, to “create a moral force that will convince Congress that the time to act is now.”
The activists have gained national and international attention and inspired thousands across the country to fast for immigration reform. Recently President and First Lady Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, chief of staff Denis McDonough, Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz and Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett have visited the tent to show their support for comprehensive immigration reform.
Among those fasting for immigration reform is JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. On Wednesday, Rabbi Gutow and representatives of other Jewish organizations will join at the Fast for Families tent on the National mall to light the Chanukah candles and speak about the need for immigration reform. If you are in DC on Wednesday, please join us at 5:30pm. And if you cannot make it to the National Mall, you can still support immigration reform with our new immigration toolkit. The toolkit includes legislative updates, messaging, sample op-eds, and more.
As the one year anniversary of the December 14 tragedy in Newtown, CT approaches, and as we reflect on another year of horrendous gun violence in this country, the JCPA is continuing its call to Congress for a #VoteOnGuns. In the year since the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, there has been no new federal legislation to prevent gun violence and keep guns out of the wrong hands.
Join us on December 13th for the Interfaith Call-in Day to Support Gun Violence Prevention. Our lawmakers must hear our moral drumbeat. This easy to use call-in number will connect you to your Member of Congress so you can tell them that in memory of the children of Sandy Hook and the thousands of Americans killed every year by gun violence, we cannot afford inaction any longer. Text “faithscalling” to 877-877 to receive a text message reminder or visit www.faithscalling.org for more information.
Along with this call-in day, help spread the message that smart gun legislation can and does save lives. We have prepared a set of new infographics on our Facebook page for you to share with friends to let them know why you support a #VoteOnGuns.
Four years after Alan Gross was imprisoned in Cuba while supporting the Jewish community there, supporters gathered in front of the White House today to call on the Obama administration to secure his immediate release. Local elected officials and community leaders joined with Alan’s wife Judy for a vigil sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, the JCPA and others to urge the US and Cuban governments to negotiate for Alan’s immediate release and return home. After serving four years of his prison sentence, Alan Gross’s health - and even his life - are in danger. He has lost over 100 pounds, he suffers from chronic pain, and his mental health is deteriorating.
Submitted by Ben Tue Nov 26 2013 18:19:29 GMT-0500 (EST)
An interim agreement reached in Geneva this past weekend between the P5+1 nations and Iran signifies a potential step toward reaching a comprehensive final agreement that would prevent Teheran from having the capability to develop a nuclear weapon. In a statement Saturday night, JCPA President and CEO Rabbi Steve Gutow said “such a final agreement, which should be negotiated in a tight time frame, must not leave Iran in a position to continue its drive for nuclear weapons capability, or to be able to restart it with ease anytime in the future.”
The agreement negotiated with Iran – called the Joint Plan of Action – places limits on Iran’s nuclear program intended to slow the pace of its march toward development of a nuclear weapon. This includes capping enrichment of uranium at 5%, and a depletion of its stockpile of enriched uranium above 5%. It also curbs development of the controversial heavy water reactor at Arak and its potential to develop plutonium, also an ingredient in a nuclear weapon. Most importantly, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency will be given daily access to Iran’s reactors and centrifuges. Iran cannot develop any new centrifuges, the devices used to enrich uranium, and cannot bring online those that have not been activated yet. In exchange, Iran will see sanctions relief amount to about $6-7 billion, accomplished by primarily easing restrictions on Iran’s petrochemical, automotive and international finance industries. According to the White House, the core sanctions architecture that targets Iran’s oil and banking industries – those that have plunged the Islamic Republic into a deep recession over the past year and spearheaded the election of President Hassan Rouhani – remain in place. Such economic pressure has guided Iran to the negotiating table, and must remain in place and fully enforced in order to ensure Iran negotiates in good faith within the next six months, when the interim agreement is set to expire.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and many in the U.S. Congress have criticized the deal for undermining the sanctions architecture without forcing a permanent freeze on enrichment activities. In a statement Saturday night, the JCPA highlighted the importance of continuing to maintain strong economic sanctions on Iran until a final agreement is reached that includes strict verification and compliance measures, and ends the menace of a nuclear armed Iran once and for all.
In a joint JCPA-Jewish Federations of North America phone call on Monday, Dr. Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said that the agreement is “a major event,” and highlighted the importance of the agreement’s commitment to a final, comprehensive deal. JCPA and the JFNA also held an off-the-record briefing with Obama administration officials late Monday afternoon. We will continue to keep you updated as negotiations continue.
Submitted by Ben Tue Nov 26 2013 18:19:00 GMT-0500 (EST)
It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Albert Chernin, Executive Vice Chairman Emeritus of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (then known as the National Jewish Community Relations Council). Chernin led NJCRAC from 1975-1990. Prior to that, he headed the Jewish Community Relations Councils in Indianapolis and then Philadelphia. He was a tireless activist for individual rights, both here and abroad and he played an important leadership role during the Soviet Jewry movement, marshalling Jewish community and national responses through NJCRAC and co-authoring “A Second Exodus: The American Movement to Free Soviet Jews.” JCPA’s highest annual award, which has been given to recipients including Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Senators Carl Levin, Frank Lautenberg, and Ron Wyden, is named in Chernin’s memory.
Submitted by Ben Tue Nov 26 2013 18:18:40 GMT-0500 (EST)
On December 4, 2012, the Senate failed to ratify the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Now the Senate is set to try again – and we need your help to prevent another disappointing outcome. Hearings are underway and it’s critical your Senators hear from you.
Also known as the Disability Treaty, CRPD provides a vital framework for creating legislation and policies around the world that embrace the rights and dignity of people with disabilities. We believe that when rights are denied to members of any minority group, we all suffer.
Submitted by Ben Wed Nov 20 2013 14:38:13 GMT-0500 (EST)
Last week seven young leaders from across the country participated in the inaugural Frank Family Leadership Institute. The vision and inspiration of Lois and Larry Frank, the Institute seeks to identify emerging local leadership to prepare them to lead their JCRCs and the JCPA. Hailing from communities large and small in the east, west, south and Midwest, the group began their journey together with a visit to Krakow, Poland. They visited the Jewish ghetto, the Rama synagogue, and spent a day at Auschwitz and Birkenau. But their trip was not only about the past. The group had an inspiring lunch with Jonathan Orenstein, director of the JCC in Krakow, where they learned about the resurgence of Jewish life in Krakow. After a whirlwind trip, the leaders flew to Israel to join the JCPA Leadership Mission, meeting with high-level Israeli, American and Palestinian officials, and addressing pressing concerns of the Jewish state.
Submitted by Ben Wed Nov 20 2013 14:37:54 GMT-0500 (EST)
On November 1, America went over the food cliff. That was the day – despite still high unemployment and rising food prices – that SNAP (formerly food stamps) was cut by $5 billion, affecting the food budgets of 1 in 7 Americans and costing a family of four about $36 a month. Still, Congress is considering additional cuts to SNAP. The Senate Farm Bill would reduce SNAP funding by $4.1 billion, while the House version of the bill slashes the most important nutrition assistance program by $39 billion.
This week, as these suddenly reduced grocery budgets run out and many families turn to food banks for their meals, join us by urging Congress to prevent more Americans from falling off the food cliff. We have prepared a tweet sheet to use that includes the names of the House and Senate conferees, their twitter handles, and helpful stats and messages on SNAP and the food cliff. Take action to prevent further cuts to SNAP that would leave more families, children, seniors, and people with disabilities without the means to eat by tweeting to Congress and urging them not to cut SNAP in the Farm Bill.
JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow started it off earlier this week with a new blog in the Huffington Post on the food cliff and our obligation to stop the cuts. “As they actively negotiate a Farm Bill, Members of Congress, acting on our behalf, should open their hearts and offer an outstretched hand to those who have fallen over the food cliff,” he wrote. “Simply, there should be no more cuts to SNAP.”
Submitted by Ben Wed Nov 20 2013 14:37:35 GMT-0500 (EST)
What role can faith community partnerships play in fighting climate change? That was the topic last week when JCPA and COEJL met with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and other senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency and White House to discuss the implementation of the President’s Plan to Fight Climate Change. The meetings were organized by the National Religious Partnership for the Environment. In addition to the role we can play in mobilizing our own communities, COEJL and our partners at the Evangelical Environmental Network, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Eco-Justice Ministries expressed faith-based perspectives and urged officials to implement strong carbon pollution regulations.
Submitted by Ben Wed Nov 20 2013 14:34:09 GMT-0500 (EST)
After three days of talks with the world’s most senior diplomats, Iran still refuses to curb its nuclear program. Although the talks have failed to achieve an agreement so far, the progress made reinforced two points: a diplomatic solution is still preferable and may be possible, and Iran responds to pressure. Sanctions brought Iran to the table, but they are making it clear that current sanctions are not enough to close a deal.
Meanwhile Iran’s centrifuges continue to spin. For diplomacy to work, it must work quickly. The pressure that has worked so far must be increased if we are to prevent Iran from continuing the development of a nuclear weapon. Iran’s continued effort to produce highly enriched uranium threatens U.S. allies including Israel, the broader region, and worldwide stability and peace. The next step is to increase the pressure on Iran by strengthening the sanctions. Only through increased pressure will progress be possible.
Earlier this summer, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the bipartisan Nuclear Iran Prevention Act (H.R. 850). Now it is time for the Senate to act. Please show your Senator that s/he must act in order to bring Iran back to the table by signing our petition.
Submitted by Ben Wed Nov 20 2013 14:33:36 GMT-0500 (EST)
Last week, one of the strongest storms on record hit the Philippines, affecting 9.5 million people and displacing 618,175. Over 10,000 are feared dead and the survivors are left with homes destroyed by storm surges as high as trees. As we have with past disasters in Haiti, New Orleans, Colorado, and other areas in Asia, the Jewish community is mobilizing to help our brothers and sisters hurt by this massive storm. The Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, administered by JDC and of which the JCPA is a part, has been mobilized to raise awareness and funding for disaster relief. The Jewish Federations has opened a mailbox where you can make a secure donation to help the people of the Phillipines.
Submitted by Ben Wed Nov 20 2013 14:33:07 GMT-0500 (EST)
The Senate voted last Thursday to expand civil rights. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which passed with bipartisan support, prohibits any discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender employees. “Employment discrimination is wrong, plain and simple,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “In our country, one that strives to live up to our founding creed that all people are created equal, everybody should be able to pursue their potential and prosper. Hiring and firing decisions should be based on an individual’s quality of work and ability to do the job, not on sexual orientation or gender identity.” In a statement, the JCPA praised the legislation for expanding opportunity for all while also protecting the religious liberty of houses of worship and faith-based organizations and urged the House of Representatives to act quickly to pass this important bill.
Submitted by Ben Wed Nov 06 2013 14:05:06 GMT-0500 (EST)
On Wednesday, October 30, Detroit interfaith leaders came to Washington, DC to lead “A City on The Edge: Repairing and Rebuilding Detroit.” The JCPA and the JCRC of Metropolitan Detroit co-hosted this unique panel discussion on Capitol Hill featuring Detroit panelists Andy Levin, Rabbi Joseph Krakoff, and Bishop Edgar Vann, Jr.
“There is no denying that the state of financial affairs in Detroit is not good and something must be done,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “The faith community has a longstanding tradition of social justice and standing up for people who are not being heard. We have gathered on Capitol Hill today to raise our voices for residents of Detroit and remind our nation about the human toll of municipal bankruptcy.
“Detroit has a strong faith community made stronger by interfaith cooperation. No one religious community is spared when an entire city is in peril. Inspired by universally held traditions of social justice, most of us in the faith community are dedicated to revitalizing the city for all. That includes protecting those who have worked hard for a secure future from falling into poverty as well as creating the opportunities for others to lift themselves up.”
The panelists discussed the road to recovery and the specific role of the faith community. A parallel event will be held in Detroit in a few weeks to continue the conversation.
Submitted by Ben Wed Nov 06 2013 14:04:42 GMT-0500 (EST)
The JCPA Leadership Mission to Israel kicked off this week, connecting American Jewish community leaders with Israeli politicians, journalists, activists, and others. In addition to meetings with members of Kenesset like Naftali Bennett, Erel Margalit, and Nachman Shai, the mission participants also sat down for a conversation with Anat Hoffman, executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center and Chairwoman of Women of the Wall, the group seeking to allow women to wear tallit and read from the Torah out loud at the Western Wall. Other meetings will include Jodi Rudoren of the New York Times, former Supreme Court Justice Dalia Dorner, Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah, U.S. Ambassador Dan Shapiro, and a HIAS-led visit to the section in Tel Aviv populated by foreign workers and African migrants.
Also this week, Secretary of State John Kerry will be arriving in Israel to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The JCPA has been supportive of the Secretary Kerry and President Obama’s effort to restart the peace talks. A strong U.S. role is the only way to secure a lasting peace between two states for two peoples.
Submitted by Ben Wed Nov 06 2013 14:04:20 GMT-0500 (EST)
On November 1, SNAP was cut for every single participant in America when a temporary boost to the program provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ended. In all, 23 million households, 22 million children, and 9 million senior or disabled Americans saw their benefits reduced to an average of less than $1.40 per person per meal. This means it will become even harder for those who are already food insecure to afford the nutrition they need.
Even as families grapple with this reduced food budget, Congress is considering even more cuts to SNAP in the Farm Bill. The Senate-passed bill includes $4.1 billion in cuts to SNAP over 10 years. The House-passed bill, in contrast, would slash SNAP by $39 billion – eliminating nutritional support for 3.8 million hungry Americans. If Congress passes such drastic cuts, they will push Americans over a food cliff. Take action today and urge Congress that we cannot afford any more cuts to SNAP.
Submitted by Ben Tue Oct 29 2013 17:57:36 GMT-0400 (EDT)
The Six-Day War in 1967 was a turning point for Israel. Before then, according to Israeli writer Yossi Klein Halevi, there was a consensus narrative of Israel’s history. Since 1967, however, there have been left vs. right or secular vs. religious histories, but no Jewish or Israeli narrative yet. The development of these new narratives is the focus of Halevi’s new book, “Like Dreamers,” the story of seven of the paratroopers who reunited Jerusalem during the Six Day War and their divergent paths in shaping the new Israel, which he discussed at the JCPA Board of Directors meeting yesterday in New York City.
“Yossi is part of the JCPA family,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow ahead of his talk. “We’ve learned together over the years and have grown together as we have tried to think through solutions to the problems between Israel and the Palestinians. His insightful presentation only mirrors his insightful and seminal book in describing how the 1967 war has framed and created the issues that Israel faces today in relation to her Palestinian neighbors. Yossi is a gem of a human being and his new book, ‘Like Dreamers,’ is a must-read and should be on every bookshelf of those who are concerned about finding peace in the Middle East.
At the JCPA Meeting, Halevi discussed the role of “utopian fantasies” in establishing Israel, and expressed his own hope for “an indigenous Israeli Judaism” that is “worthy of a sovereign people in a modern world.” "Yossi belongs to that group of Zionist intellectuals I would describe as radical centrists. Not left or right, he has the capacity to see the value and correctness of perspectives across the political spectrum. His ‘ideology’ is love of Israel and the Jewish people. According to Yossi, his book ends with a message of optimism for the future, an optimism we share. This soft-spoken, spiritual and profoundly thoughtful mensch should be an inspiration to us all,” said JCPA Senior Vice President Martin Raffel.
Submitted by Ben Tue Oct 29 2013 17:57:02 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Last Sunday and Monday, Jewish community leaders from across the country met in New York City for the JCPA Fall Meetings. These meetings were an opportunity to learn and discuss strategies and Jewish advocacy for the issues of the day. The JCPA task forces heard from national figures like Susan Stern, chair of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, who talked about the role community organizations can play in ending human trafficking by learning the signs and using our purchasing power to demand slave-free production chains. Professor Peter Petit spoke about Christian-Jewish relations and Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. He was followed by Ira Forman, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, who gave an update on some of the latest threats and the work the U.S. government and we can do. In addition to letting offending countries know that we are watching them, Forman said, we should also reach out to social media companies for help in combating some of the worst hate speech online. Other topics at the meetings included immigration, social justice, and a unique conversation to see if there can be a consensus Jewish community position on using tuition tax credits for religious school funding.
Submitted by Ben Tue Oct 29 2013 17:56:36 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Bipartisan support for the immigration reform bill introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Joe Garcia (D-FL) is building. With your help, we can pass this much needed legislation and finally update our broken immigration system that too often separates families and obstructs economic development. Including provisions from the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate this summer, H.R. 15 also includes the McCaul-Thompson border security bill approved on a bipartisan basis by the House Homeland Security Committee. “We can’t afford any more delays,” said Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), one of the latest Members of Congress to support the legislation. “We are a nation of immigrants, but today, our broken system has failed to secure the border, enforce our current laws and help us to attract the best and brightest who want to come and contribute to the greatness of America.” America has always been an immigration nation, and the Jewish community, inspired by our own experiences and our biblical commandment to “welcome the stranger,” has been a leader in advocating for an improved immigration system that meets our economic, security, and moral needs. Join the #ImmigrationNation movement today by asking your Representative to support this important and bipartisan legislation.
Submitted by Ben Tue Oct 15 2013 18:27:01 GMT-0400 (EDT)
With Congress unable to reach agreement, the federal government shutdown continues. Already, Head Start programs have been scaled back, vulnerable women and children have been cut off from nutrition support, and hundreds of thousands of federal workers remain without pay and unable to get back to work. The White House is now warning that the shutdown is hindering our ability to enforce sanctions against Iran.
It is time to act! Join us by reaching out to your Members of Congress. Let them know that they must end this shutdown and avoid a dangerous default. Instead of dysfunction, we need a Congress that will create more opportunity, reform our immigration system, and help lift up the most vulnerable.
Submitted by Ben Tue Oct 15 2013 18:26:29 GMT-0400 (EDT)
With the biblical mandate to welcome the stranger and having our own experience as immigrants, the Jewish community maintains a strong commitment to immigration reforms that are fair and compassionate. Our Immigration Nation website, a project of the JCPA and HIAS, helps you to stay informed on the latest efforts to fix our broken immigration system. There are resources for talking about immigration, and with the click of a button you can take action to shape the reform.
Just last week, members of the House of Representatives introduced a new bill, similar to the bipartisan bill that was passed by the Senate earlier this year. It is important to let your Representative know that with 11 million immigrants living in the shadows, many still waiting to be reunited with their families, immigration reform is still a priority.
Submitted by Ben Tue Oct 15 2013 18:26:14 GMT-0400 (EDT)
With the Jewish holidays behind us, the Israel Action Network (IAN) took to the road again to launch the second round of the Community Impact Partnership (CIP). During the pilot run of this program, IAN worked closely with the Jewish communities in Oregon, Colorado, Wisconsin and Rhode Island to create strategic plans to increase their community relations capacity and help counter local assaults on Israel’s legitimacy. The strategic projects created by the first four CIPs will be funded through IAN microgrants. Given the success of the pilot, six more CIPs are now being added for training, funding and implementation through June, 2014.
Submitted by Ben Tue Oct 08 2013 18:48:36 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Last week pairs of African American and Jewish elected officials, clergy, and community leaders from seven cities around the country met in Philadelphia for the 5th annual African American and Jewish Community Leaders Mission. Participants met with Philadelphia Mayor Nutter, explored the history of the city’s African American and Jewish communities, spoke with local leaders about the issues of race and poverty, volunteered with local service projects, and discussed opportunities for sustained community partnerships after the mission.
Philadelphia is known for its history of inclusion and diversity; it began as a colony dedicated to William Penn’s ideal of religious freedom and tolerance. The issues discussed during the mission included race, poverty, and economic justice.
Philadelphia was also home to then candidate Barack Obama’s speech on race and ethnicity. That speech provided an important backdrop as participants sought to connect to each other’s stories and develop greater understandings and future partnerships. As each of these pairs returns home, these understandings will inspire future cooperation that will erode the divisions between communities and that obstruct the work of repairing the world together.
Submitted by Ben Tue Oct 08 2013 18:47:09 GMT-0400 (EDT)
The JCPA today released a new study, “Reluctant or Repressed? Aversion to Expressing Views on Israel Among American Rabbis,” which showed that while passionately Zionist and pro-Israel, one third of Conservative and Reform rabbis from both sides of the political spectrum fear expressing their true views on Israel. The report, written by Steven M. Cohen, Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Rabbi Jason Gitlin, project manager of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s ReFrame initiative, is the first large-scale survey of American rabbis’ connection to Israel and their challenges in expressing their views.
Submitted by Ben Tue Oct 08 2013 18:46:52 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Long confined to the extreme margins, but, in recent times, beginning to seep into mainstream discourse is the odious position that challenges Israel’s legitimacy as both a Jewish and democratic state. Many supporters of Israel – including those in our own community – sometimes have difficulty articulating why these two sides of Israel’s identity are not only compatible, but complementary.
In response, JCPA Senior Vice President and the Israel Action Network Project Director Martin J. Raffel, together with author and professor Gil Troy, penned a new IAN publication entitled, “Israel: Jewish and Democratic,” refuting the arguments questioning Israel's dual identities. This booklet - an attempt to provide answers to commonly asked questions with the goal of empowering both community and campus activists – has been excerpted and discussed as a five-part series in the Times of Israel. The first four essays have already been published. We encourage you to read, share, and contribute to the important discussion online.
Submitted by Ben Tue Oct 01 2013 18:29:48 GMT-0400 (EDT)
At midnight last night, the Federal government was shut down because of Congress’s inability to agree on new appropriations bills. Besides the failure of civil and reasonable government that this displays, the shutdown will have an immediate impact on our most vulnerable families and individuals. The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) which provides over half of American infants with necessary nutrition, can only be sustained by the states for about a week. After that, 9 million women and children will be left without that crucial support. Additionally, 20 Head Start programs have already been closed, with more to come as the shutdown drags on. Not only does this deny opportunity to the children served by Head Start, but now, working parents will have to find another way to look after their kids – possibly by taking off time or paying for day care, two luxuries that many cannot afford.
The costs of the shutdown will only increase the longer Congress fails to find a solution. “The clock is ticking on how long dysfunction can rule,” said JCPA Chair Larry Gold in a statement this morning. Last month, JCPA Vice President and Washington Director Jared Feldman sent a letter to Congress urging them to “craft a federal appropriations bill that prevents a government shutdown and furthers fiscal equity.” Citing the Biblical command that “there shall be no needy among you,” the letter specifically called to protect WIC and Head Start, among other programs, and for a restoration of the cuts from the sequester.
Last night, 33 faith leaders, including JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow, sent a letter to Congress denouncing the political brinksmanship that created this crisis. “As people of faith we find it morally irresponsible to blockade the process by which we provide for our nation’s shared needs in a bid to force any individual legislative priority.”
Submitted by Ben Tue Oct 01 2013 18:25:57 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Our communities face many challenges, from Israel to interfaith relations to poverty to human rights. How best do we address them? At the JCPA Meetings, this October 27-28 at the UJA Federation of New York, 130 East 59th Street, we bring together leading experts with Jewish community activists for discussions and strategy sessions on the challenges not only in our own communities, but around the world.
Join us to hear from Yossi Klein Halevi, a leading Israeli journalist and writer to learn about the history and unique role of the American Jewish diaspora in supporting Israel. Halevi will also be discussing and signing his new book, "Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation."
We are also excited to be joined by Susan Stern, Chair of the President's Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, who will tell us about the Council's recent report on human trafficking and their recommendations. As a Jewish community leader herself, Stern will also discuss how the JCPA and broader community relations field can champion effective anti-trafficking programs.
Additional sessions will include the growing manifestations of anti-Semitism in Europe and the former Soviet Union, comprehensive immigration reform, tuition tax credits, the federal budget, and more!
Submitted by Ben Tue Oct 01 2013 18:25:19 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Last week, JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow was in Virginia Beach to take part in an interfaith Sukkot event organized by the Community Relations Council of Tidewater. About 50 people attended the event, including two imams, Latino community leaders, the Executive Director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy, the Chair of the Tidewater Chapter of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, and Miles Leon and Harry Graber, the President and Executive Director, respectively, of the Tidewater Jewish Federation. Jeffrey Arnowitz, a local rabbi, led the group in the blessings before Rabbi Gutow delivered an address on the shared teachings that unite different faiths in doing good works together. While in Tidewater, Rabbi Gutow also spoke to community leadership and kicked off the CRC year with a luncheon.
In addition to the Sukkot event, Rabbi Gutow met with leaders of the Christian Broadcasting Network. The meeting was organized by CRC Director Robin Mancoll, who meets regularly with the locally-based CBN, and who invited Gutow so that they could see the work the CRC is a part of nationally through the JCPA. In addition to the JCPA's humanitarian efforts, the meeting covered Christian persecution in the Middle East, the JCPA efforts at encouraging churches to invest in the Palestinian territories instead of divesting from Israel, and interfaith missions to Israel.
Submitted by Ben Tue Sep 24 2013 17:57:52 GMT-0400 (EDT)
A change in Iran’s rhetoric is not the same as a change in behavior. That is the message coming out of the annual meeting of the UN General Assembly, which began this morning in New York City, and that is the message we are asking you to send to Congress.
Sanctions against Iran have already had a significant impact on its economy, and recently, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed a willingness to resume negotiations. This is an encouraging sign. Like President Obama, we agree that “the diplomatic path must be tested,” but the only way negotiations will result in an end to the Iranian nuclear weapon program is if Iran’s leaders continue to feel the pressure of strong and targeted sanctions. In his address to the UN, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to compare Iran to North Korea, which used negotiations as a way to make “cosmetic changes” in exchange for relaxed sanctions. But the need for strong sanctions will not end until Iran’s nuclear program does.
That is why we are asking you to TAKE ACTION and reach out to the Senate in support of a new round of sanctions against Iran. Passed in the House of Representatives earlier this year, these sanctions – if approved by the Senate – would close loopholes and force Iran’s leaders to choose between the pursuit of a nuclear bomb and the needs of the Iranian people. Please take action today to make sure that if negotiations with Iran are to begin again, Iran’s leaders must take them seriously.
Submitted by Ben Tue Sep 24 2013 17:57:32 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Millions of Americans are still struggling with hunger, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual report, “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance in the United States: 2012”. Yet despite still high levels of poverty and food insecurity, the House of Representatives voted last week to cut $40 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), our nation’s most effective anti-hunger program . Estimates from the Congressional Budget Office found that this bill would end benefits for approximately 3.8 million low-income people in 2014. The cuts would impact the most vulnerable by denying food assistance to children, seniors, veterans, active duty military, and working parents earning low wages.
For decades, policymakers have shared a bipartisan commitment to reducing hunger and hardship. This legislation turns its back on that commitment. As the nation slowly climbs out of the deepest recession in decades, it’s time for Congress to make smart, effective investments in Americans. Senators should firmly reject these harsh cuts and send the President a bill that does not take food off the table of many of our most vulnerable Americans.
Submitted by Ben Tue Sep 24 2013 17:57:16 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Last week the nation confronted another tragedy due to gun violence, this time at the Navy Yard in our nation’s capitol. The shooting on Monday morning took 13 lives and wounded 8 others. In a statement after the attack, JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow said, “we are distraught by this senseless loss of life. Monday’s horrific attack calls each of us to take stock and confront our nation’s deep and ongoing problem with gun violence. These acts must shake us out of complacency.” The JCPA calls for a comprehensive approach to prevent gun violence, one that includes meaningful legislation to limit access to assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines, aggressive enforcement of firearm regulations, robust efforts to ensure that every person in need has access to quality mental health care, and a serious national conversation about violence in media and games.
Submitted by Ben Wed Sep 18 2013 09:59:58 GMT-0400 (EDT)
This week has seen a rare bit of positive news out of Syria. In addition to the U.S.-Russia agreement to get Assad to relinquish control over all his chemical weapons to the international community for their subsequent destruction, efforts are now underway to craft a UN Security Council Resolution that will not only increase pressure on Assad to be forthcoming but also will seek accountability for those who have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Syrian Civil War.
The JCPA previously had called on Congress to support the President's plan for a targeted and limited military strike in response to the chemical weapons massacre. However, as JCPA Senior Vice President Martin Raffel told JTA, the current diplomatic process, which many believe was stimulated by the administration’s credible military threat, has us “cautiously optimistic.” Getting the job done peacefully is far preferable. But should the process falter, a military response may once again be necessary.
In the meantime, the Jewish community remains deeply concerned about the humanitarian crisis being caused by the civil war. The rapid influx of large numbers of refugees into Jordan has placed an enormous strain on that small nation’s already struggling economy. With violence and extremism swirling all around Israel, Jordan has been an island of stability and moderation, which is why assistance to support Jordan is crucial. The Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief (JCDR), of which the JCPA is a member, has set up a fund to assist Syria’s refuges, especially those now in Jordan.
Submitted by Ben Wed Sep 18 2013 09:59:13 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Colorado is suffering from unprecedented flooding that has swept through 15 counties, killing five and displacing thousands. So far, more than 1,500 people are missing in the flooding, which has wiped out roads and bridges and destroyed or damaged thousands of homes, businesses and institutions. The Jewish community has not been spared from this disaster. In Boulder, several feet of floodwater swept into both the Har Hashem Reform synagogue and Bonai Shalom Conservative congregation, damaging both buildings, while the Chabad Lubavitch of Boulder County was also badly hit. Many community members are reporting flooded homes as well.
In response to this tragedy, the Emergency Committee of the Jewish Federations of North America, on which the JCPA sits, has provided $50,000 in emergency aid to the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado, which is taking the lead in assessing needs and distributing funds and supplies throughout the community. JFNA has opened a mailbox to collect donations. One hundred percent of donations to the JFNA fund will go to the Allied Jewish Federation’s relief effort.
Submitted by Ben Wed Sep 18 2013 09:57:35 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Registration is now open for the JCPA Fall Meetings! This October 27-28 at the UJA Federation of New York, 130 East 59th Street, take your seat at the Jewish community’s round table and make sure your voice is heard. The JCPA Meetings provide an unprecedented opportunity to meet with Jewish community leaders and national experts from around the country to discuss the most important issues of the day and to help plan the action the Jewish community must take. We are faced with many serious challenges at home and abroad that require deliberation, discussion, and action. Join us as Ira Forman, the U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, David Roet, deputy permanent representative of Israel to the UN, and Ken Bandler, director of communications at the AJC, discuss the most pressing issues including Syria, Iran, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. These speakers and more will educate and inform us about today’s most sensitive issues. Additional sessions will include the growing manifestations of anti-Semitism in Europe and the Former Soviet Union, comprehensive immigration reform, the federal budget, and more!
Submitted by Ben Wed Sep 11 2013 12:32:36 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Last week, as the Administration went to Congress with evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons, the JCPA issued a statement condemning the attack and urging Congress to authorize a military response. “We support President Obama’s decision to launch a targeted and limited military response. It will communicate to Assad and any others tempted to use or acquire weapons of mass destruction that the United States stands by our warnings and our values,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow.
Those warnings and values include a prohibition on the use of the most barbaric weapons, those that kill indiscriminately and brutally. The photographs of dead bodies arranged into neat lines, many of them children, was a reminder that we can “no longer watch on the sidelines as civilians are gassed,” said JCPA Chair Larry Gold.
Already, the support for the President’s plan is making an impact. In the face of the credible threat of force by the United States, Syria has announced that it tentatively is prepared to accept a proposed plan by Russia to put all chemical weapons under control of the international community. While the Administration views this as a potentially hopeful development, the request for Congressional authorization for the time being remains in force. President Obama is scheduled to address the nation on Syria this evening.
Submitted by Ben Wed Sep 11 2013 12:32:15 GMT-0400 (EDT)
“Hineni," Hebrew for “here I am” is an important biblical response used by the patriarchs to indicate their willingness to answer God’s call. Using a speech that President Obama gave to the Union of Reform Judaism’s biennial conference last year, the Jewish Social Justice Round Table has put together a new video called Hineni that demonstrates how the American Jewish community has continued to stand up and answer God’s call for justice. The video particularly focuses on the role of Jews in supporting comprehensive immigration reform. Reflecting that history, the JCPA has launched a campaign in support of reform called Immigration Nation. We are a nation of immigrants, made stronger and more creative by the influx of talented and passionate aspiring Americans. But our current system is broken. We need updated immigration laws that reflect our economic and security needs, and live up to our moral standards.
Submitted by Ben Wed Sep 11 2013 12:31:42 GMT-0400 (EDT)
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) – the bill which would finally make it illegal to fire or refuse to hire lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people – passed out of committee in July and now proceeds to the Senate floor. ENDA is supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans who agree that nobody should be discriminated against in employment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
There has never been a more important time for the faith community to demonstrate its support for this landmark legislation. To help ensure passage of ENDA, the Religious Action Center and interfaith voices from around the country will be taking part in another Faiths Calling campaign. Text "FaithsCalling" to 877-877 to receive text instructions and be connected directly to your Senator's office on September 17, or dial 1-888-897-0174.
Submitted by Ben Tue Sep 03 2013 17:54:59 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Congress returns from the August recess this week. In addition to addressing the President’s request for authorization for a military strike in Syria in response to that government’s use of chemical weapons one of their most immediate tasks will be addressing Iran and its quest for nuclear weapons. Stopping Iran’s nuclear program has been a priority for the Jewish community, Israel, the United States, and our allies for years. Concern about a nuclear-armed Iran has intensified as the country continues its support for President Bashar al-Assad in Syria who has recently gassed civilians and killed over 100,000 Syrians in the past few years.
Before the recess, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a new round of sanctions against Iran demonstrating American will to pressure Iran to peacefully dismantle its nuclear arms program. Now it is time for the Senate to act! These new, strong, targeted sanctions are designed to facilitate and support diplomacy. Iran must know the United States is serious and the world will not allow proliferation of the world's most dangerous weapons in this volatile region.
As Senators return to Washington and debate the American role in the Middle East, it is important that they hear from you.
Submitted by Ben Tue Sep 03 2013 17:54:34 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Last week, as part of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow and Chair Larry Gold attended a special White House reception for civil rights leaders, including the President, Martin Luther King III, and Representative John Lewis. Following the reception and anniversary commemoration, Rabbi Gutow published a piece in the Huffington Post on the history of Jewish involvement in the civil rights movement and the work ahead that remains to be done from voting rights, to LGBT employment, to immigration reform.
Submitted by Ben Tue Sep 03 2013 17:54:10 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Long confined to the extreme margins, but, in recent times, beginning to seep into mainstream discourse is the odious position that challenges Israel’s legitimacy as both a Jewish and democratic state. Many supporters of Israel – including those in our own community – sometimes have difficulty articulating why these two sides of Israel’s identity are not only compatible, but complementary.
In response, JCPA Senior Vice President and the Israel Action Network Project Director Martin J. Raffel, together with author and professor Gil Troy, penned a new IAN publication entitled, “Israel: Jewish and Democratic,” refuting the arguments questioning Israel's dual identities. This booklet is an attempt to provide answers to commonly asked questions with the goal of empowering both community and campus activists to confront the issue with confidence and integrity.
Included in this discussion are five key points: that being Jewish is not merely just a religious category; that the deep connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel remained unbroken through the millennia, with modern Zionism providing a moral underpinning for the establishment of the State of Israel; that the moral right of the Jewish people to national self-determination is recognized internationally; that Israel’s Law of Return is consistent with other states’ immigration laws; and finally, that Israel is striving to be both the nation state of the Jewish people, and a state that treats all its citizens based on the principle of nondiscrimination.
Submitted by Ben Wed Aug 21 2013 11:40:24 GMT-0400 (EDT)
The JCPA is excited to announce the launch of the Immigration Nation webpage - a one-stop location for updates, resources, and actions to help understand and pass the comprehensive immigration reform our country needs.
Congress may be on a long, summer recess, but the JCPA and the Immigration Nation campaign are full speed ahead this month, working together to enact just and fair reform to our country’s broken immigration system. The website provides up-to-date information, examples of what communities near you and across the country are doing, and letters you can send to your Senators and Representatives with the click of a button. Be sure to keep checking out immigration-nation.us as the immigration debate moves forward and share it with colleagues and friends.
Start taking action today! With Members of Congress in their districts during the August recess, now is the time your Representatives in the House need to hear from you. As with the Senate-passed bipartisan “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” (S. 744), we now urge the House of Representatives to create a comprehensive plan that values equality, family, due process of law, civil rights and ultimately restores our national calling as an ‘Immigration Nation’. We strongly encourage Congress to consider this important legislation that would bring our immigration system into the 21st century.
Submitted by Ben Wed Aug 21 2013 11:40:04 GMT-0400 (EDT)
The continued threat of a nuclear Iran has been of concern to the Jewish community, Israel, and the United States for many years. While there is talk of the possibility of renewed negotiations over Iran’s nuclear projects, the rhetoric of the regime makes it clear that now is not the time to stop the pressure. In fact, more stringent and targeted sanctions will add leverage to future negotiations, which is why the JCPA applauded the overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives earlier this month in favor of the Nuclear Iran Prevention Act (H.R. 850).
Now it is time for the Senate to act. This summer, with Members of Congress home for the August recess, it is important that they hear from you on the importance of stronger sanctions against Iran. We have set up a petition to demonstrate the broad support for sanctions. We encourage you to sign and share with friends and colleagues. After you sign the petition, there are links to sample tweets, facebook posts, and an e-mail you can send with the click of a button. Please join us and take action!
Submitted by Ben Wed Aug 21 2013 11:39:48 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Interfaith relationships are at the heart of the JCPA’s community relations work. The partnerships forged with American churches on one issue, such as fighting poverty, can be instrumental in bringing our communities together on other issues, like support for Israel.
Last week, JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow spoke about the shared commitment to justice that unites our communities in a speech before the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s 2013 Churchwide Assembly. Rabbi Gutow was only the second Jew ever invited to address the ELCA Assembly. His speech focused on the line “Justice, justice you shall pursue.”
Submitted by Ben Tue Aug 13 2013 17:27:59 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Congress may be on a long, summer recess, but the JCPA and the Immigration Nation campaign are full speed ahead this month, working together to enact just and fair reform to our country’s broken immigration system.
With Members of Congress in their districts during the August recess, now is the time your Representatives in the House need to hear from you. As with the Senate-passed bipartisan “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013” (S. 744), we now urge the House of Representatives to create a comprehensive plan that values equality, family, due process of law, civil rights and ultimately restores our national calling as an ‘Immigration Nation’. We strongly encourage Congress to consider this important legislation that would bring our immigration system into the 21st century.
And stay tuned for the launch of our Immigration Nation webpage – a one-stop location for updates, resources, and actions to help understand and pass the comprehensive immigration reform our country needs.
Submitted by Ben Tue Aug 13 2013 17:27:29 GMT-0400 (EDT)
As part of the peace talks that are scheduled to resume in Jerusalem this Wednesday, the Israeli government has released 26 Palestinian prisoners from jail. The release of violent prisoners is a difficult decision for many, but, as the JCPA’s Martin Raffel wrote in the New York Jewish Week, for peace talks to work, both Israelis and Palestinians “would be well served by showing an appreciation of the other side’s interests.” That reminder came as part of an op-ed on what both sides will need to do for peace talks to be successful. This includes often difficult concessions from both sides, like ensuring the future state of Palestine has enough land “to be successful economically [and] provide a decent quality of life for its residents” and recognition of the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state
Submitted by Ben Tue Aug 13 2013 17:26:56 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Israel Action Network staff hit the road this month to help several communities increase their capacity to counter delegitimization.
IAN Deputy Managing Director David Dabscheck attended JFNA’s annual Young Leadership Cabinet Retreat in Park City, Utah earlier this month, which drew over 300 young leaders for a week of leadership development. Dabscheck led an IAN workshop designed to instruct participants on responding to assaults made on Israel's legitimacy through interactive role playing exercises which demonstrated how to respond to challenging conversations about Israel. Dabscheck also traveled to St. Louis on August 2 to address Jewish Agency Israel fellows at the Hillel Institute where he led an IAN workshop for Jewish Agency Fellows to discuss the threats posed by delegitimization and best practices that can be used in countering such assaults in Fellows’ communities.
Similarly, IAN Director of Community Strategy Noam Gilboord joined 50 Masa alumni from across North America for a weekend of Israel advocacy training and leadership development in Baltimore. Many participants were part of Masa’s Building Future Leadership program, which selects approximately 50 individuals with leadership potential from nearly 10,000 Masa participants to take part in specialized programming in Israel twice a year. Gilboord, a 2008 alum of this program, led two training sessions over the three day event. The first session enabled participants to discuss the definitions of a Jewish State, State of the Jews, and State for all Citizens, and rank their personal vision of Israel according to their values. Participants shared a wide range of answers, demonstrating that, even within a small group of young leaders, Israel holds very different, individual meaning for each person. Gilboord also provided an IAN training session focused on delegitimization where participants were instructed on the most effective ways to portray Israel to populations that are vulnerable to pro-BDS messaging.
Submitted by Ben Wed Jul 31 2013 16:03:29 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Full time work should keep a family out of poverty and offer a path to stability. That is the thought behind new legislation introduced by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Representative George Miller (D-CA). The Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013 (S.46/H.R. 1010) would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by 2015 in three increments of 95 cents. Today in America, a worker making the minimum wage -- $7.25 an hour – would get an annual salary of only $15,080 for full-time work. The situation is even worse for America’s tipped workers. According to the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, “The tipped minimum wage has been frozen at $2.13 since 1991 or 22 years. With about 1 in 12 Americans working in restaurants, raising the minimum and tipped minimum wage are necessary to ensure that every American has equal economic opportunities.
Marking the fourth anniversary since the last rise in the federal minimum wage, the JCPA held a webinar last week to discuss the importance the economic opportunity and the impact of minimum wage legislation. At the close of the program, the JCPA’s Robin Rosenbaum announced this year’s Fighting Poverty with Faith theme: good jobs. Fighting Poverty with Faith is building a nationwide, interfaith movement to cut domestic poverty in half in the U.S. between 2010 and 2020. FPWF is Co-chaired by the JCPA and Catholic Charities USA and endorsed by over 50 national faith based organizations. The annual FPWF mobilization focuses on addressing root causes of poverty and ensuring that all who live in the United States have access to opportunities to prosper. The 2014 Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization will take place January 16-23, 2014. During the Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization we are committed to highlighting programs, agencies, and legislation that create good, sustainable jobs and employment that produces a long-term pathway to economic security.
Submitted by Ben Wed Jul 31 2013 16:03:00 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Representatives from Israel and the Palestinian Authority concluded the first round of peace talks in Washington, DC today. The meetings, the first since 2010, were organized and hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry. As the two parties joined in Washington on Monday, Secretary Kerry announced that former US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk would be the US representative overseeing the process. Indyk will travel to Israel for the next rounds aimed at creating a viable Palestinian state alongside a secure Israel based on mutually agreed upon borders. On Sunday, as part of the agreement to resume direct negotiations, Israel’s cabinet approved the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners, to be done in phases as talks progress. This is the first of other agreements both sides will have to make, and the JCPA has encouraged both sides to be flexible, courageous and persistent to ensure that the talks are successful.
Submitted by Ben Wed Jul 31 2013 16:02:41 GMT-0400 (EDT)
Last week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that Congress could not require the State Department to allow Americans born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their place of birth on their passports. Though the U.S. has maintained a strong friendship with Israel, it has refused to recognize any nation’s sovereignty over Jerusalem. The ruling held that the 2002 law wrongfully intruded on a President’s sole power to recognize foreign governments. In 2012, the JCPA joined an amicus brief to the Supreme Court organized by the ADL in defense of the law. In a statement on the decision, the JCPA called on President Obama to “right a wrong” and “stop treating those born in Jerusalem differently.”
Submitted by Ben Wed Jul 24 2013 16:33:20 GMT-0400 (EDT)
For the first time in almost three years, Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to resume direct negotiations. Secretary of State John Kerry met individually with leaders in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Jordan encourage all parties to join the conversations without preconditions.
Since the last round of direct negotiations broke down in 2010, the Palestinians had been pursuing unilateral declarations of independence at the United Nations. The JCPA believes that direct bilateral negotiations – free of external pressures and deadlines, and conducted in the spirit of reconciliation and compromise – is the strongest path to peace.
A lasting peace that ensures security and dignity for both Israelis and Palestinians requires recognition of each other’s right of national self-determination. With dedication and support, two states for two peoples in peace and security is an achievable goal.
Submitted by Ben Wed Jul 24 2013 16:32:41 GMT-0400 (EDT)
We are fast approaching the longest recess of the year for Members of Congress. This August recess is an important opportunity for policy makers to hear from you on pressing issues like gun violence and immigration reform. During August recess, Members head home to meet with constituents and work from the district. This provides an opportunity for JCPA and JCRCs to strengthen our coalitions and work with federal legislators.
In order to help Jewish communities be most impactful in communicating our messages this summer, JCPA has created a new August Toolkit. The toolkit includes guidance for setting up in district meetings, as well as policy language, sample op-eds, and press releases to help communicate the Jewish community’s message. With immigration reform now in the hands of the House of Representatives and Majority Leader Harry Read promising to reconsider gun violence legislation, it is crucial for our Representatives to hear from us. We hope you find the toolkit useful as we keep up momentum for a safer, more prosperous, more just country.