The JCPA Plenum in Atlanta is just days away! Beginning this Saturday night, Jewish community leaders from around the country will gather to learn, discuss, and debate the issues most important to the American Jewish community and how we can take the lead in ensuring a secure Israel, promoting justice, protecting the poor, being stewards of our environment, and much more.
Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect. In his first public appearance since joining the peace process team, David Makovsky, Senior Advisor, Office of the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, will provide insights into the peace process, what progress has been made, what challenges remain, and what role the American Jewish community can and should play. We will also hear from Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York who will discuss issues affecting the security of Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship and provide analysis on the major challenges of the day, particularly the P5+1 negotiations with Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The international focus will continue with a look at the future of Israel advocacy, a training tailored to help smaller communities to combat the delegitimization of Israel, and a discussion on preventing genocide and humanitarian crises around the world.
In the wake of the recent Pew study of the Jewish community – the most detailed poll of American Jewish attitudes in a decade – we will hear from Jerry Silverman, President of the JFNA, Elana Kahn-Oren, director of the Milwaukee JCRC, and Rabbi Deborah Waxman, President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College on the challenges for our communities. Many of our challenges are also shared by other faiths, and so JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow will sit with Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori for a conversation about shared priorities including social justice, religious liberty, and human rights, the quest for Middle East peace, and the success of small religious groups in an era of declining religious identification.
In addition to shaping the future of Jewish advocacy, the Plenum is also our chance to honor some of our leaders who have helped to get us to where we are. Atlanta leaders Lois Frank, Leon Goldstein, and Melanie Nelkin will receive the JCPA Tikkun Olam in honor of their work which exemplifies the Jewish concept of repairing the world and Abe Foxman, retiring National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, will receive the prestigious Albert D. Chernin award.
As Congress considers a bipartisan update to the important Voting Rights Act, Plenum delegates will take part in a panel discussion on the Jewish community’s history and ongoing involvement in the Civil Rights movement with Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Franita Tolson, Professor of Voting Rights at the Florida State University, and Representative Mandela Barnes, State Representative of the 11th Assembly District in Wisconsin.
The JCPA Plenum is also where the organized American Jewish community comes to debate and vote on consensus policies. Resolutions being debated this year include an increase in the minimum wage, reproductive health, LGBT discrimination, European anti-Semitism, funding for higher education, inclusion for individuals with disabilities, and combating human trafficking.
We will have more updates on these sessions and resolutions as Plenum begins, but you can also follow along with us on twitter using #JCPAplenum.
Fighting Poverty with Faith is a nationwide, interfaith movement to cut domestic poverty in half by 2020. The annual Fighting Poverty with Faith mobilization focuses on addressing a root cause of poverty, and this year we are commemorating the 50th anniversary of President Johnson’s War on Poverty.
By coordinating our message with national faith groups such as Catholic Charities, holding joint events, and promoting partnerships, we will accept the challenge President Johnson made half a century ago: “For the war against poverty will not be won here in Washington. It must be won in the field, in every private home, in every public office, from the courthouse to the White House.” The mobilization will educate the public about the everyday challenges facing the 46 million people living in poverty in America today; highlight innovative solutions to poverty by connecting local practitioners with national leaders; and pledge to act to reduce poverty in communities across the country using newfound knowledge and techniques.
Local communities can make a difference by planning community-wide, interfaith, events and actions during the week-long mobilization (March 31-April 4). Raise awareness by planning activities such as Hunger Seders and Food Stamp Challenge programs, and urge your elected officials to focus on policies that help the more than 46 million people in this country who are struggling to make ends meet.
If you are interested in planning an event or learning more about Fighting Poverty with Faith contact: Robin Rosenbaum, (202) 212-6037.
Submitted by Ben Thu Feb 27 2014 12:51:31 GMT-0500 (EST)
Earlier this month, in response to a recent Supreme Court decision, Congress introduced a bipartisan update to the historic Voting Rights Act (VRA). This year at the JCPA Plenum in Atlanta, we invite you to join us for a unique conversation focused on the history and future of voting rights in America and continuing the Jewish community’s decades of commitment to advancing civil rights in our country.
We laid the groundwork for the landmark VRA back in 1950, when Arnold Aronson - then Program Director of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council (now the JCPA) - along with A. Philip Randolph, head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and Roy Wilkins of the NAACP founded the Leadership Conference on Civil (and Human) Rights. The JCPA, both independently and through the Leadership Conference, then played a pivotal role in passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and helped to organize one of the defining events of the 20th century — the 1963 March on Washington.
At the JCPA Plenum in Atlanta, continue to march with us as a bipartisan panel of experts and leaders talk about how we can ensure that every citizen can cast a meaningful ballot. The panel, moderated by Rabbi David Saperstein, will feature insights from Franita Tolson, Professor of Voting Rights at the Florida State University and Representative Mandela Barnes, State Representative of the 11th Assembly District in Wisconsin.
Submitted by Ben Thu Feb 27 2014 12:51:06 GMT-0500 (EST)
This week, JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow spoke in Washington, DC for the ONE Campaign Power Summit. The summit brings together 200 volunteer leaders from around the country for advocacy training and a lobbying trip to Capitol Hill around their energy and poverty campaign. The Summit also included an appearance by ONE Campaign co-founder Bono. Laurie Moskowitz, the ONE Campaign’s Director of US Campaigns, said that “Both ONE and the JCPA have a passion for helping the world’s poorest and look forward to the power that can occur when we combine our advocacy efforts.”
Submitted by Ben Thu Feb 27 2014 12:50:47 GMT-0500 (EST)
JCPA staff was at the White House today for a special event, Faith Leaders on Environmental Stewardship and Climate Change. The gathering brought together senior administration officials from the White House and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with faith-based and community leaders to discuss environmental stewardship and values and the President’s Climate Action Plan to cut carbon pollution; prepare our communities for the impacts of climate change; and take international leadership on this global challenge.
As Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Melissa Rogers said, “We know protecting the vulnerable includes protecting the environment.” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy spoke of climate change as a threat to public health, a threat to our environment, and a threat to our economy. As faith leaders united, we discussed the human responsibility to care for one another and our environment.
Submitted by Ben Thu Feb 20 2014 09:54:45 GMT-0500 (EST)
You do not want to miss this important interfaith conversation at the 2014 JCPA Plenum in Atlanta. Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori will join JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow in a conversation about how the church and the Jewish community address shared priorities, including social justice, religious liberty, individual rights, civility, and human rights. They will explore the quest for Middle East peace including a two state solution – and the challenge of those who deny the narratives of Israelis or Palestinians. And they will discuss how each struggles with its place as a small religious group, successful by any American standards, facing an era of declining religious identification.
Katharine Jefferts Schori was elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in June 2006. She serves as chief pastor and primate to the Episcopal Church's members in 16 countries and 110 dioceses. Over the course of her 9-year term, Bishop Jefferts Schori is responsible for initiating and developing policy for the Episcopal Church and speaks on behalf of the church regarding the policies, strategies, and programs authorized by General Convention. She has been vocal about the Episcopal Church's mission priorities, including the United Nation Millennium Development Goals, issues of domestic poverty, climate change and care for the earth, as well as the ongoing need to contextualize the gospel.
Rabbi Gutow is President and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. A lawyer, rabbi, and political organizer, Steve has worked in his present position to protect the security of Israel, to move the Jewish community and the US government to end genocide in Darfur, restore civility in public life, fight poverty, and create a sustainable environment. He has been named to the “Forward 50” and Newsweek/Daily Beast list of most influential rabbis three times since 2008. Since coming to JCPA in 2006, he has focused on enhancing the JCPA’s interfaith relations. Steve has built important associations with the leadership of the National Council of Churches, Catholic Charities and the Islamic Society of North America. He has participated in interfaith missions to Vietnam, Israel, Jordan and Indonesia. This past May, he served as scholar in residence on a trip led by the Baltimore Jewish Council bringing local rabbis, ministers and imams to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
This interfaith dialogue is just one of the many conversations affecting the future of Jewish community advocacy at the JCPA Plenum. Register today and be a part of one of the U.S.’s oldest and largest gathering of Jewish community leaders.
Submitted by Ben Thu Feb 20 2014 09:54:08 GMT-0500 (EST)
Jewish Disability Awareness Month is an initiative to raise awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion of people with disabilities and their families in Jewish communities worldwide.
On Thursday, February 6, JCPA took action by joining other Jewish organizations to sponsor the 4th annual Jewish Disability Advocacy Day. Advocates from around the United States came together at the U.S. Capitol for a morning of briefings from policy experts and an afternoon of lobby visits.
Advocacy efforts in meetings with Members of Congress and Congressional staff focused on two key requests: The first was to secure sponsors for the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act, which encourages saving private funds for the purpose of supporting individuals with disabilities. The second was to ask Senators to support ratification of the Disabilities Treaty, which promotes the rights of people with disabilities across the globe based on the standard set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Submitted by Ben Thu Feb 20 2014 09:53:42 GMT-0500 (EST)
Last Thursday, JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow and JCPA Senior Vice President Martin Raffel were in Washington, DC along with representatives from other Jewish groups to meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan. During the meeting, they discussed the ongoing peace process in Israel and other regional concerns, including the humanitarian crisis brought about by the civil war in Syria. Jordan, Israel’s neighbor to the east with a significant Palestinian population, has been an important partner in the peace process, hosting multiple talks with Secretary of State John Kerry during his trips to the Middle East. The meeting with King Abdullah followed meetings a week earlier which included Rabbi Gutow, Martin Raffel, and Jared Feldman, JCPA vice-president, with Puneet Talwar, special assistant to the president and senior director for Iran, Iraq and the Gulf States on the White House National Security Staff, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, and Ziad Asali and other professionals from the American Task Force for Palestine. Those earlier discussions covered Iran’s nuclear program as well as the peace process and Syria.
Submitted by Ben Wed Feb 12 2014 14:40:12 GMT-0500 (EST)
Three years ago, the JCPA and The Jewish Federations of North America partnered to create the Israel Action Network, a three-year initiative to help communities counter assaults made on Israel’s legitimacy.
We are excited to announce that this week, after a presentation from IAN chair David Sherman of Chicago at the JFNA Board of Trustees meeting discussing IAN’s accomplishments and the continued challenges facing Israel by the BDS community, the JNFA Board overwhelmingly voted to renew IAN for an additional three years.
“Thank you for having had the wisdom to fund IAN,” Sherman said. He mentioned IAN’s recent efforts to combat the well-publicized effort to isolate Israel’s academics at the Modern Language Association meeting, and noted ongoing efforts to generate support for Israel among progressive groups. With renewed funding, Sherman said, IAN would continue building relations with Christian moderates and partnering with campus groups.
Submitted by Ben Wed Feb 12 2014 14:39:14 GMT-0500 (EST)
After 27 years as the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abe Foxman – who President Obama called “irreplaceable” - is retiring. But before he does, you can help us honor this lion of the Jewish community at the JCPA Plenum in Atlanta where we will be awarding him the prestigious Albert D. Chernin Award. Named for the JCPA’s Executive Vice Chair Emeritus, the Chernin Award is given to Jewish leaders whose life work best exemplifies the social justice imperatives of Judaism, Jewish history, and the protection of the Bill of Rights. There are few who have embodied those traits as passionately and successfully as Abe Foxman. Register for Plenum today to take part in one of the oldest Jewish community gatherings in the country where you can plan for the future of Jewish advocacy and help us honor Abe Foxman’s decades of service. In addition to the award ceremony, the JCPA Plenum is your place to meet and learn with national experts, interfaith leaders, and Jewish community advocates from across the country. The JCPA Plenum is also where the organized Jewish community meets to debate and vote on policies. Learn more and join us in Atlanta.