Jewish Leaders Welcome Lima Agreement, Raise Importance of U.S. Actions at Home

by JCPA

 Sunday morning, top leaders from nearly 200 countries agreed to The Lima Accord, a global pact to work together to tackle climate change. Each nation is expected to enact domestic legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions. These plans will be the basis for further negotiations in Paris next year. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) welcome this next important step and continue to urge American leadership at next year’s Paris meeting.

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Why isn’t the JCPA reviewed by Charity Navigator?

by JCPA

 We frequently receive questions about why the JCPA has not been reviewed by Charity Navigator. We recently spoke to Charity Navigator, which had the JCPA on a list of organizations that did not fall within their framework for organizations they review. As a result of our conversation, they have changed the JCPA’s position, and the JCPA now qualifies for review. There is a long list of organizations to be reviewed, and the only way for the JCPA to move up on the list is for individuals to vote for us to be reviewed.

Please click here to vote for the JCPA to be reviewed (you may have to register for a free account first)

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Frank Fellows travel to Eastern Europe and Israel

by JCPA

 Last week eight young leaders from across the country participated in the second annual 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 its journey with a visit to Krakow, Poland. They visited the Jewish ghetto, the Remuh synagogue, and spent time at Auschwitz and Birkenau. But the trip was not only about the past. After the visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the group visited the vibrant Auschwitz Jewish Center in Osweicm and then spent an inspiring evening 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 group flew to Israel to join the JCPA Leadership Mission, which addresses pressing concerns of the Jewish state in meetings with high-level Israeli and American officials as well as Palestinian community leaders.

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Holiday Season Resources

by JCPA

To encourage an inclusive and welcoming holiday season at American schools, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has sent guidelines for appropriate holiday displays and practices to public school educators and officials around the country. The guidelines address how to be sensitive to religious diversity and avoid actions that might constitute religious coercion or other constitutionally problematic issues.
The publication offers tips on the distinction between practicing religion and teaching about religion, how to plan gatherings where religious themes or music are expected to be performed, and which holiday activities and decorations are appropriate on school grounds.
Separately, the ADL provided guidance to public officials about holiday dilemmas relating to public buildings other than schools.

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Food Stamp Challenge

by JCPA

Last week, Jewish community leaders kicked-off the Food Stamp Challenge, today, December 1, to call attention to the national crisis of hunger and poverty in the United States. Hosted by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), the challenge sends a strong message to public officials that federal anti-poverty programs, including SNAP (food stamps), need our support and are essential to keeping millions fed, housed, and clothed.

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Resetting the Table

by JCPA

Continuing its tradition of fostering inclusive, civil and constructive American Jewish conversation on Israel, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) welcomes its second cohort of Facilitation Fellows and Conveners. This group of 19 talented young Jewish leaders in the New York City area will be trained to facilitate and craft conversations across differences on Israel through a wide range of Jewish communities and institutions.

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Dennis Ross on Iran

by JCPA

Ambassador Dennis Ross gave a timely and informative briefing about the status of Iranian nuclear talks to the JCPA and JFNA communities last Tuesday. He described the conditions and positions that led to an impasse in the talks and the decision to extend the deadline by some seven months.

Ambassador Ross explained that despite proffers of various solutions, the “Iranians simply didn’t budge.” While there was progress on various points, in the end the Iranians “would not roll back as much as the Administration wanted, and insisted that sanctions be revoked immediately,” which is a non-starter for accountability reasons. The Ambassador noted that “they [the Iranians] need to see that we are prepared to compete in the region,” and that the ISIS fight does not cause us to need them more than they need us. Most important, for a deal to be struck, the Iranians must perceive a “high price for the loss of diplomacy.” Collective pressure from the world community will help drive a diplomatic solution, he concludes.

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#GivingTuesday

by JCPA

Today’s the day.  It’s #GivingTuesday and we hope that on this day you will join us in giving back!

It is really incredible.  The United States is the wealthiest nation in the world and yet we still struggle with hunger and poverty. 

The statistics are startling:

  • 45.3 million Americans lived in poverty in last year
  • 3,593,878,500 free and reduced lunches were served last year at schools
  • In 2013, one in five children lived in poverty

Our task this #GivingTuesday is to look behind the numbers. 

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Call with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat

by JCPA

In the wake of a grisly terror attack in a Jerusalem synagogue, some 400 gathered for a teleconference last week featuring Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. Mayor Barkat described a climate rife with violence aimed at inciting anti-Israel sentiments, and expressed his own grief calling to mind the Holocaust upon seeing tallit-clad worshipers soaked in blood. Nevertheless, the Mayor presented a boldly optimistic picture of the city’s prospects going forward. He cited swift and sure responses to attacks, including demolishing the houses of known terrorists, stating, “We will do everything in our power to maintain our quality of life in Jerusalem” and “make them [terrorists] understand it doesn’t pay.” Outlining impressive statistics on trends in the city since 2009, including a recent doubling of tourist traffic and “many, many cranes in the air,” the Mayor remains “very optimistic we will return to growth and development of the City of Jerusalem.” He concludes, “Something good is happening in Jerusalem.”

To hear the recording of the call, click this link.

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Food Stamp Challenge and Giving Tuesday

by JCPA

So there is Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Starting this year, we will now celebrate #GivingTuesday, the week after Thanksgiving. 

This year, the JCPA is focused on the issue of hunger and poverty the week of December 1.  We encourage you to join us for the Food Stamp Challenge!  We also encourage you to demonstrate your support and commitment to ending hunger and poverty and contributing to the JCPA’s Confronting Poverty Initative this year on #GivingTuesday.

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Tumult in Ferguson

by JCPA

For those of us watching the events in Ferguson, Missouri unfold on our televisions, the images are disturbing and distressing. For the residents of Ferguson, they are reality. The killing of Michael Brown and the events that followed, reaching a climax last night with the announcement of no indictment of Officer Wilson, are particular to Ferguson. However, the underlying societal issues at play are, unfortunately, national in scope. The systemic issues at play exist in all of our communities, and we must find ways to address them.

Motivated by our Sage Hillel’s sentiment, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when? The St. Louis JCRC joins with all in the St. Louis region who are determined to work together to bring healing where there is brokenness.

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Child Care passes

by JCPA

Thanks to the efforts of JCPA advocates and a large coalition of faith, community, and nonprofit organizations, Congress has reauthorized the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) for the first time in nearly 20 years.  In a bipartisan vote yesterday, the Senate passed the CCDBG, the largest source of child care funding for low-income working parents.  Improvements to the program include requiring providers to undergo comprehensive background checks and ensuring annual inspections of child care facilities.  The updated law also expands financial support for low-income families so they can more easily afford child care.  The bill now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign.

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Food Stamp Challenge and Giving Tuesday

by JCPA

So there is Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Starting this year, we will now celebrate #GivingTuesday, the week after Thanksgiving. 

This year, the JCPA is focused on the issue of hunger and poverty the week of December 1.  We encourage you to join us for the Food Stamp Challenge!  We also encourage you to demonstrate your support and commitment to ending hunger and poverty and contributing to the JCPA’s Confronting Poverty Initative this year on #GivingTuesday.

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Terror in Jerusalem

by JCPA

In the wake of Tuesday’s morning terror attack at the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue in Jerusalem, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) expressed horror at the slaying of innocent worshippers and called upon Palestinian leaders to pave the way towards peace, rather than violence and incitement.

“This appalling attack on a place of worship represents pure evil,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “The horrific scene of finding innocent worshippers wrapped in prayer shawls and slaughtered in a synagogue is reminiscent of dark times in the Jewish people’s past. Palestinian leaders have a choice between good and evil, to lead their people towards peace or violence, and they must choose life. There is no place for such violence in a civilized world and we call upon all the peoples of the world to condemn such actions. We support the people of Jerusalem and the entire nation of Israel in their right to defend themselves and bring those responsible to justice.”

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Winding up the GA

by JCPA

This year, the annual event took place in National Harbor, Maryland, and brought together Federation and Jewish communal leaders from across the country to engage on issues facing Israel and American Jewry today.

IAN was pleased to host two workshops this year addressing challenges posed by assaults made on Israel’s legitimacy.

“Room for Every View? How to Create Space for Varied Perspectives on Israel,” was moderated by IAN Managing Director Geri Palast, and featured Eyal Rabinovitch, co-founding co-director of Resetting the Table: Open Conversations on Israel, a Jewish Council for Public Affairs initiative that enables conversation across differences in Jewish spaces where speaking about Israel is avoided or volatile. The session showcased various ways to maintain civility, respect and unity in communities where members may have widely divergent views about Israel. Eyal, who is a mediator, facilitator, coach, and trainer, guided Federation professionals in learning best practices for defusing tension, communicating directly, and building new lines of collaboration and problem-solving. A published author on dialogue and deliberation, Eyal has a doctorate in sociology from UCLA and has taught courses integrating conflict resolution theory and practice as an Assistant Professor at Wesleyan University and Baruch College.

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Reauthorize Child Care and Development Block Grants

by JCPA

The Senate is currently considering passage of S.1086, a bill to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and needs to hear from you now!

In September, the House passed an amended version of the bill. The Senate is expected to vote on this new version of the bill later this week.  You can help make sure this new version is passed and sent to the President for his signature by telling your Senators to vote in favor of the CCDBG reauthorization!

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Food Stamp Challenge

by JCPA

Have you heard about JCPA’s Food Stamp Challenge, but don’t really know what it involves?  Are you contemplating participating but not sure if your community is up to the challenge?  Are you baffled by the logistics?  Or are you on board but looking for some more great ideas for how to make this year’s Food Stamp Challenge an outstanding success?  Then watch this webinar! 

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Children's Health Insurance Program

by JCPA

Last week, JCPA joined 1,200 other national, state, and local organizations in calling on Congress to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In a bicameral letter, these organizations urged Senate and House leadership to take action in the upcoming lame duck session and include a four-year CHIP funding extension before the Congressional session ends.

For nearly two decades, CHIP has been an essential source of coverage for families, ensuring access to health care for children in working families whose parents earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to purchase private health insurance. The program has played a critical role in reducing the number of uninsured children by more than 50 percent while improving health outcomes and access to care for children and pregnant women across the nation. Currently, CHIP provides health coverage to about 8 million children from low to moderate income families.  Unfortunately, funding for this successful program will end in September 2015.

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Food Stamp Challenge Webinar

by JCPA

Have you heard about JCPA’s Food Stamp Challenge, but don’t really know what it involves?  Are you contemplating participating but not sure if your community is up to the challenge?  Are you baffled by the logistics?  Or are you on board but looking for some more great ideas for how to make this year’s Food Stamp Challenge an outstanding success?  Then sign up for the webinar on the Food Stamp Challenge!

On Thursday, November 6, from 12-1 pm EST, the JCPA will host a webinar focusing on the nuts and bolts of running a Food Stamp Challenge.  The webinar will feature speakers from three separate JCRC communities who have run outstanding Food Stamp Challenges in the past few years.  This will be a time to learn “best practices” from “the experts” on how to make the Food Stamp Challenge an outstanding success and to ask any lingering questions.

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JFNA General Assembly

by JCPA

The 2014 JFNA General Assembly is just days away. The Israel Action Network (IAN) is looking forward to presenting you with another year of dynamic programming.

This year, the annual event takes place in National Harbor, Maryland, and will bring together Federation and Jewish communal leaders from across the country to engage on issues facing Israel and American Jewry today.

IAN is pleased to host two workshops this year addressing challenges posed by assaults made on Israel’s legitimacy.

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Climate Change

by JCPA

Rabbi Steve Gutow, JCPA President, joined other national faith leaders for a series of meetings with Secretary of Energy Moniz and senior State Department officials to discuss climate change.  Rabbi Gutow discussed the JCPA’s policy positions including our desire for strong American Leadership in climate change negotiations at the upcoming international conferences in Lima and Paris.  He also shared the programmatic work of COEJL such the recent interfaith programs and national security events.
Congratulations Aaron!

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Confused about the Food Stamp Challenge?

by JCPA

Have you heard about JCPA’s Food Stamp Challenge, but don’t really know what it involves?  Are you contemplating participating but not sure if your community is up to the challenge?  Are you baffled by the logistics?  Or are you on board but looking for some more great ideas for how to make this year’s Food Stamp Challenge an outstanding success?  Then sign up for next week’s webinar on the Food Stamp Challenge!

On Thursday, November 6, from 12-1 pm EST, the JCPA will host a webinar focusing on the nuts and bolts of running a Food Stamp Challenge.  The webinar will feature speakers from three separate JCRC communities who have run outstanding Food Stamp Challenges in the past few years.  This will be a time to learn “best practices” from “the experts” on how to make the Food Stamp Challenge an outstanding success and to ask any lingering questions.

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3,593,878,500 Meals

by JCPA

50 million Americans are hungry, equivalent to 1 in 6 people; including 17 million children and 4 million seniors.

Nearly 19.8 million people in the United States lived below 50 percent of the poverty line in 2013.

There are many different ways to measure poverty in country.  Each statistics both sheds light on the needs.  But with numbers so large, the statistics also mask the human impact of poverty in the United States.

To have a sense of what poverty feels like for Americans, we challange you to join us in living on the average SNAP (food stamp) benefit for he Food Stamp Challenge from December 1-7. 

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Take the Food Stamp Challenge

Video from teh previous Food Stamp Challenge.  Since then, the average SNAP benefit has been reduced to $1.40 per meal.

Over the past several years, we have challenged all of you to live on the average Food Stamp budget.  Thousands of individuals taken the challenge, including dozens of members of Congress.  We now renew the challenge, but this time it’s harder.

Since our last Food Stamp Challenge, the average benefit has gone down.  Now it’s only $1.40 per meal or $29.40 per week. 

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JCPA Fall Meetings

by JCPA

The JCPA will be holding our Fall Meetings October 26-27, 2014 in New York.  We hope to see you there!

As we began in June, we will continue to explore new ways to engage our Board and JCRC's in the JCPA planning process.  We want you to help set the agenda for JCPA in 2015 and we are giving you a chance to do just that. On Sunday, October 26th from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m., we will be holding a Board of Directors meetings (open to all) where we will continue the conversation.  Where do you want JCPA to be involved in 2015? Make your views known and help us take our combined experiences and set strategic guidelines for action.

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IAN on the Road

by JCPA

There was no summer vacation for IAN this season. While simultaneously coordinating pro-Israel solidarity gatherings and providing support on Operation Protective Edge, IAN’s Director of Community Strategy, Noam Gilboord, continued to visit Jewish Federations across the country to increase their local capacity to combat delegitimization.

On August 21, Noam visited the Jewish Federation of Lehigh Valley in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he addressed nearly 100 Jewish community members on strategies that the BDS movement utilizes nationwide. Drawing upon his experience combating BDS in academic associations, on college campuses, and in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Gilboord instructed community members on how to employ successful techniques that will enable pro-Israel members of the Jewish community to effectively advocate for Israel to members of civil society.

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Re-framing Israel Advocacy: Listening as a Precondition to Being Heard

by JCPA

featuring Rabbi Melissa Weintraub, Director of JCPA Civility Initiative

Thursday October 23 at 7:30pm EDT

Many Israel advocates wish their efforts had wider and stronger impact among the disengaged, uninformed, indifferent, skeptical and critical. This talk addresses why efforts to cultivate sympathy for Israel aren’t heard by many of the audiences advocates most want to reach, and what might be more effective. More than talking points and messaging, we need to be training advocates in how to listen deeply, ask the right questions, see the point of view of their audience honestly and appeal to their values.

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On The Road Again

by JCPA

The JCPA will be holding our Fall Meetings October 26-27, 2014 in New York.  We hope to see you there!

As we began in June, we will continue to explore new ways to engage our Board and JCRC's in the JCPA planning process.  We want you to help set the agenda for JCPA in 2015 and we are giving you a chance to do just that. On Sunday, October 26th from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m., we will be holding a Board of Directors meetings (open to all) where we will continue the conversation.  Where do you want JCPA to be involved in 2015? Make your views known and help us take our combined experiences and set strategic guidelines for action.

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IAN at International Lion of Judah Conference

by JCPA

IAN was honored to take part in The Jewish Federations of North America’s International Lion of Judah (ILOJ) conference earlier this month. ILOJ, which was founded over 40 years ago, now boasts over 17,500 women as members who provide a valuable resource for the global Jewish community. The gathering marks an important opportunity for women leaders to meet in New York for several days of learning and sharing with their sister philanthropists from around the world. Attendees heard from some of today's most respected speakers on issues affecting our Jewish community at home and abroad, including Dr. Jill Biden.
As part of the three day conference, IAN hosted a discussion in the session “Defending Israel from Delegitimization: Find the Right Message.”

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"We don't inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children." Chief Seattle

by JCPA

My six year-old great nephew brought that quote home from his school in Yishuv Alon in Israel today - ironically, the day after I joined over 400,000 people in New York at the People's Climate March.  I had wrestled with whether or not I would trek up to New York to participate, but couldn't stay away. Our son David worked diligently for months as one of the march's key organizers .

How could I not make the effort?

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People's Climate March

by JCPA

This Sunday JCPA and COEJL joined the over one hundred Jewish organizations and 400,000 other citizens at the People’s Climate March in NYC. This march, widely described as the “largest and most diverse” demonstration of its kind, called for coordinated international action to stem climate change. We were heartened by the strong Jewish voice advocating and demonstrating on behalf of this important issue. Shofars were blown and prayers and speeches were given in the hours leading up to the march.  JCPA President Steve Gutow joined Jared Feldman (VP and Washington Director), Rabbi Fred Dobb (COEJL Chair), Andi Millens (VP), Geri Palast (Managing Director of the Israel Action Network), Jared Bierbach (COEJL Policy Associate), and Sybil Sanchez (COEJL Development Director) as part of the JCPA contigent at the march. The rally comes at an opportune time as 120 world leaders, including President Barack Obama, convene at the United Nations in New York to discuss carbon pollution.  In what the NY Times is calling “A clarion call to action” we hope this march is the catalyst for a new global consensus on climate change.

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House Passes Bipartisan Child Care and Development Block Grant Act; Bill Now Moves to the Senate

by JCPA

In a rare show of bipartisanship, the House of Representatives voted on Monday, September 15, to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG). The CCDBG, which was last reauthorized nearly 20 years ago, is the largest source of child care funding for  low-income working parents. The bill makes crucial improvements to the program, such as requiring providers to undergo comprehensive background checks, ensuring annual inspections are conducted, and requiring childcare providers receive training on CPR, first aid and safe sleep practices. The updated law also seeks to improve the overall quality of child care, which is particularly unaffordable for low-income families.

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People's Climate March

by JCPA

The JCPA and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), is pleased to join the Jewish Climate Change Campaign, JCPA member agencies Rabbinical Assembly, JCRC-NY, and Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and hundreds of other organizations as a partner for the People’s Climate March.  The march is being held on September 21st, 2014 at 11:30 in NYC. This September the United Nations is hosting a summit with World Leaders on the very important subject of climate change at its headquarters in New York City. We will join with others of all faiths and backgrounds to demonstrate for a world with an economy that works for people and the planet.  A world safe from the ravages of climate change.  A world with good jobs, clean air, and healthy communities for everyone.

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Global Anti-Semitism

by JCPA

The past years--and especially in the wake of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza--there has been a marked increase in anti-Semitism, manifested by vandalism, violent attacks, and chants of “Death to the Jews” across the world.   In a recent report, the State Department found that  “throughout Europe, the historical stain of anti-Semitism continued to be a fact of life on Internet fora, in soccer stadiums, and through Nazi-like salutes, leading many individuals who are Jewish to conceal their religious identity.”  Calls for Jews to be gassed were heard in Germany. More than 100 congregants were besieged for hours in a central Paris synagogue by an angry mob. The Turkish nongovernmental organization IHH (which instigated the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident) has threatened that “Turkish Jews will pay dearly” for Israel’s actions in Gaza. In Britain in July, there were roughly 100 anti-Semitic incidents, double the usual number. Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan stated that Israel’s defense against Hamas rocket fire amounts to “barbarism that surpasses Hitler.”

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Alan Gross

Can you imagine spending five years in a Cuban prison?  We can't - and we need your help to end Alan Gross's nightmare.  Please join the Jewish community and our friends to ask President Obama why Alan Gross is still held in Cuba, almost five years after he was imprisoned for his role in a U.S. government project to help Cuba’s tiny Jewish community access the internet.
 

Alan is an American citizen who worked as a subcontractor on a project by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  Alan was arrested and convicted on charges that his USAID work undermined the Cuban government.  He has languished in jail since 2009.  His sentence is 15 years.

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Food Stamp Challenge

“I’m taking the Food Stamp challenge because I know that hunger is a huge problem in the country. Our area, which has so much wealth and abundance, also has so many people who don’t have enough to eat. It’s shocking,” said Melanie Levitan of Morris Township, vice president, Jewish Family Service of MetroWest.

Melanie is 1 of 35 Jewish community leaders and agency staff, 14 New Jersey legislators* and 2 freeholders* who have committed to taking the Food Stamp Challenge. They will live on $4.20 a day for food to raise awareness about the crisis of food insecurity in the Jewish and general community in New Jersey. This is the amount of help individuals with low incomes receive through SNAP (food stamps).
The Community Relations Committee of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ and the Jewish Family Services of Central NJ are leading off the JCPA's national Food Stamp Challenge.  Throughout the fall, communites across the country will take the challenge and learn about hunger in the United States.

click here for more information about the Metro-West Challenge

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Protecting Religious Refugees

Earlier this week, a bipartisan group of members of Congress (Representatives Waxman (D-CA), Franks (R-AZ), Schiff (D-CA), and Wolf (R-VA)) circulated a Dear Colleague letter urging reauthorization of the Lautenberg Amendment, which expires on September 30.

The Lautenberg Amendment, named for the late Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), provides expedited refugee processing and a presumption of eligibility for historically persecuted religious minority groups from Iran and the former Soviet Union.   For more than two decades, the Lautenberg Amendment has aided religious minorities escaping persecution and seeking refuge in the United States.

JCPA is partnering with HIAS to send a clear message to Appropriations Committee Chairman Rogers and Ranking Member Lowey that the Lautenberg Amendment must be included in any continuing resolution.  Failure to extend the Lautenberg Amendment would place persecuted religious minorities at risk.  Please reach out to your Member of Congress and alert your networks to urge their Representatives to sign onto the Dear Colleague letter.  The letter will close Thursday, September 11.

Urge your Representative to join the bipartisan Dear Colleague letter in support of the Lautenberg Amendment

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Why is Alan Gross still in Cuba?

by JCPA

 Can you imagine spending five years in a Cuban prison?  We can't - and we need your help to end Alan Gross's nightmare.  Please join the Jewish community and our friends to ask President Obama why Alan Gross is still held in Cuba, almost five years after he was imprisoned for his role in a U.S. government project to help Cuba’s tiny Jewish community access the internet. 
 

Alan is an American citizen who worked as a subcontractor on a project by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  Alan was arrested and convicted on charges that his USAID work undermined the Cuban government.  He has languished in jail since 2009.  His sentence is 15 years.   

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People's Climate March

 The JCPA and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), is pleased to join the Jewish Climate Change Campaign, JCPA member agencies Rabbinical Assembly, JCRC-NY, and Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and hundreds of other organizations as a partner for the People’s Climate March.  The march is being held on September 21st, 2014 at 11:30 in NYC. This September the United Nations is hosting a summit with World Leaders on the very important subject of climate change at its headquarters in New York City. We will join with others of all faiths and backgrounds to demonstrate for a world with an economy that works for people and the planet.  A world safe from the ravages of climate change.  A world with good jobs, clean air, and healthy communities for everyone.

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Jews in the Negev

by JCPA

 

Debbi Goldman Golan
On Thursday, September 4, JCPA and the Embassy of Israel will jointly host an event, featuring Debbi Goldman Golan, Co-Founder and President of Atid Bamidbar. The event will focus on the critical work of Atid Bamidbar in integrating Russian and Ethiopian Jews throughout the Negev and in Israel.  Atid Bamidbar bridges gaps in Israeli society by engaging a diversity of Israeli Jews, as well as Jews in the Diaspora. The non-profit organization promotes community building through collaboration between sectors, organizations, localities, and municipalities. 

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JCPA visits Israeli Embassy

by JCPA

Minister Ilan Sztulman, Susan W. Turnbull, Rabbi Neil Borovitz, Stuart Brown

The leadership of the Task force on Israel, World Jewry, and International Human Rights met with Israel's incoming Minister for Public Diplomacy Ilan Sztulman. In a lengthy and wide-ranging meeting, the delegation informed the Minister about the work of JCPA, and discussed ways in which JCPA can be supportive of Israel’s needs. Minister Sztulman shared his history of growing up in Brazil, making Aliyah at age 17, serving in the Israeli Army, and embarking on a diplomatic career. His most recent posting was as Consul General in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is married and has three children. In his new post, he is charged with the challenging task of improving relations between Israel and the American public. In attendance from JCPA were lay leaders Rabbi Neal Borovitz,  Chair Susan Turnbull, and Stuart Brown, along with Israel Action Network Managing Director Geri Palast, VP and General Counsel Ethan Felson, Deputy Washington Director Michelle Sternthal, and Senior Policy Fellow/Director of Legal Affairs Hanna Dershowitz.

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Ferguson Protests

by JCPA
Protests in Ferguson, Missouri

As protests continue in Ferguson, Mo., the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) applauds the Jewish community’s sentiments put forth in a statement by the Jewish Federation and Community Relations Council of St. Louis and actively supports the continuance of efforts to combat racism, poverty and economic inequality.
 
“We join with the St. Louis Jewish community in their sorrow for the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old man, and the pain his family has endured,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “We stand with the St. Louis Jewish community, ready to provide the community support through JCPA’s national network across the American Jewish community. We share in the community's admiration for the public servants who have tried to maintain peace in their community - and the countless non-violent protesters who have stood for a just and peaceful response to the tragic events in Ferguson. The situation in Ferguson represents many larger issues - particularly the issue of racism - issues deeply rooted in the social structure of our society that must be addressed. There are no quick solutions. As Jews, our commitment to tikkun olam, repairing the world, includes working toward eradicating racism, poverty and economic inequality,” Rabbi Gutow said.

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Susan Penn, JCPA Vice Chair

by JCPA

JCPA is proud to congratulate JCPA Vice Chair Susan Penn of Northern New Jersey who will be among the recipients of  The Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award presented at the upcoming International Lion of Judah conference. The award, which named for Lion of Judah founders Norma Kipnis-Wilson and Toby Friedland z”l, honors the most inspiring women in our communities. Susan brings tremendous creativity, intelligence and drive to each project she undertakes for Northern New Jersey’s Jewish community. A Ruby Lion of Judah, Susan serves on the boards of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey and National Women’s Philanthropy (JFNA) and is vice president of the New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations. Susan has served as a vice chair of the JCPA since 2008, as chair of the 2008 and 2009 JCPA Annual Plenums, and previously as chair of the JCPA’s Task Force on Israel, World Jewry and International Human Rights. Mazel Tov, Susan!

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Exploring Violent Movements

by JCPA
Prof. Peter Krause lecutring at Harvard University.

In hopes of better understanding extremists that undermine peace, JCPA, along with JFNA and IAN, convened the fifth of its interfaith calls illuminating important aspects of the Gaza conflict. The national conference call focused on violent insurgent movements—their causes, organizational structures, effectiveness, and how to defeat them.

On a day that brought an end to a fragile cease-fire, Professor Peter Krause laid out the background and then compared Hamas and ISIS. He explained that the reason groups like Hamas succeed with violent tactics is that there is no evidence of other tactics yielding significant progress toward goals of the group of a Palestinian state.

Krause is an assistant professor of political science at Boston College, a Research Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, and a research affiliate with the MIT Security Studies Program. His research and writing focuses on international security, Middle East politics, political violence, and national movements. Krause has conducted extensive fieldwork throughout the Middle East over the past decade. He has published articles on the effectiveness of national movements and political violence, U.S. intervention in the Syrian civil war, the politics of division within the Palestinian national movement, the war of ideas in the Middle East, and a reassessment of U.S. operations at Tora Bora in 2001.

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Leibel Fein z"l

by JCPA

Leibel Fein speaks at the JCPA Plenum

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) joins mourners worldwide today in grieving the loss of Leonard “Leibel” Fein, founder of the National Jewish Coalition for Literacy and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger and co-founder and editor of Moment Magazine.

“The world has lost one of its great lights. Leonard “Leibel” Fein was a rare human being – a visionary, a thinker, a teacher, and a doer,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow.  “A giant of justice has passed to wherever giants go. “He was a dear personal friend and an important part of the JCPA family, a vibrant presence at our annual Plenum.  It was heartening to be with him last month at his 80th birthday when many of the leaders of the Jewish world came together to show our love and admiration for someone who has given so much to so many. While his earthly presence will no longer grace our dinners and our conversations, his consistent drive to do all we can to make the world better than it is will linger in our minds and hearts as we continue to pursue the dreams he dreamed.”

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August Recess Toolkit

by JCPA

During the month of August, Congress adjourns and Senators and Representatives return to their district offices. Take advantage of this opportunity by reaching out to your Members of Congress on issues that matter to the Jewish community.

JCPA has released its 2014 August Recess Toolkit, which will assist you in planning your August programming.  The toolkit includes information on in-district visits with legislators or their staff, visits to town halls, and media outreach.  The toolkit also includes background information and talking points on Operation Protective Edge, child hunger, unaccompanied minor migrants, and voting rights.

click here to download the August Recess Toolkit

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Make a Difference: Environmental Action for your Home & House of Worship

 

Pictured: Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, St. Louis JEI Chair Susan Mlynarczyk, St. Louis JCRC Domestic Issues Director Gail Wechsler and Jared Bierbach of the JCPA. Photo by Philip Deitch.

On Thursday evening July 31, close to 140 people attended the event “Make a Difference: Environmental Action for your Home & House of Worship” at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park. The event, co-sponsored by JCRC’s Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI), the US Green Buildings Council, Missouri Gateway Chapter (USGBC) and Missouri Interfaith Power & Light (MO IPL) featured keynote speakers meteorologist Mike Roberts and civil rights and environmental leader Rev. Gerald Durley. Both speakers emphasized the importance of acting now to reduce the impact of climate change by reducing carbon pollution. After the keynote addresses, participants attended two concurrent breakout sessions to learn about specific ways to Green their homes and houses of worship. This event was supported by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.

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Interfaith Calls

In the third in a series of interfaith calls designed to provide perspectives to non-Jewish leaders on aspects of the current conflict in Gaza, participants heard a frank assessment of the situation from Yossi Alpher on July 30, 2014.

Alpher outlined the regional backdrop against which the current operations are unfolding, and the current goals of both actors in the conflict. He noted that neither side in the Gaza conflict has had a decisive victory. The Israeli public is united in support of Operation Protective Edge, even as a growing humanitarian dimension is causing a segment in the international community to question some of the Israel’s military decisions. Alpher warned of a host of dangers occasioned by the current “ugly, asymmetric war” and hoped for an outcome that would be an improvement over the status quo ante. 

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National Leadership Assembly for Israel

 On Monday, July 29 more than 600 top leaders gathered representing Jewish federations and community relations councils from over 50 communities joined leading members of the Conference of Presidents for an event demonstrating the Jewish community's unity and steadfast support for Israel. The group heard from National Security Advisor Susan Rice, House Speaker John Boehner, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and other congressional and faith leaders. The speakers were each clear in their affirmation of Israel's right to defend itself from Hamas rocket and tunnel attacks, the unshakable bond between the U.S. and Israel.  

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Environmental Action For Your Synagogue

 

This Thursday, the Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI) a committee of the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis along with Missouri Interfaith Power and Light and the U.S. Green Building Council will co-host an action-oriented program designed to help save energy in homes and synagogues. The event is supported by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL).

The program, Make a Difference: Environmental Action for Your Home & House of Worship will feature award-winning meteorologist Mike Roberts and Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, a national board member of Interfaith Power & Light, former pastor of the Providence Missionary Baptist Church of Atlanta, and an inductee into the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame. Break-out sessions will include discussions for greening your home and greening your house of worship. Suggestions will be provided of how to get started in the process of reducing energy use. 

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