JCPA adopts new policy resolutions on anti-Semitism, the Syrian refugee crisis, race relations, criminal justice, early childhood education, family and medical leave, and one commemorating the Armenian genocide at its annual Town Hall meeting
Washington, D.C. – “Justice” was the common thread to the sessions, discussions, and policies adopted at the recently concluded Town Hall of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. Over the course of three days, delegates to the national gathering discussed and debated how the Jewish community relations field should address threats to Jews in Europe and around the world, including the current spate of terror in Israel. Other issues on the agenda included the Syrian refugee crisis, race relations, criminal justice, early childhood education, family and medical leave, and commemoration of the Armenian genocide. At the annual Chair’s Dinner the body honored outgoing President Rabbi Steve Gutow and community leaders Stuart Kurlander and Vivian Bass.
“During the Jewish Community Town Hall, in addressing many of the key issues of our time, JCPA was at its best and most relevant. We delved into contemporary issues and reached consensus positions that will lead our community towards action. We were informed, we discussed, and we debated, over three days. We then took concrete steps to create policy in our shared pursuit of justice,” said JCPA Board Chair Susan W. Turnbull.
With regard to anti-Semitism, the JCPA adopted a policy calling for guidelines “regarding the line between criticism of Israel’s policies and anti-Semitism, and when that line is crossed—strongly informed by the EUMC definition of anti-Semitism.” “We live in a dangerous world, not just for ourselves, but many who are at risk because of who they are, where they live, or how others perceive them,” said Ethan Felson, JCPA Senior Vice President. “We are all created in the divine image, so an injustice to anyone is an injustice to all of us – and so we take action.”
The Town Hall, formerly known as the Plenum, overwhelmingly adopted a resolution on criminal justice reform that urges a shift from punitive prohibitionist policies and toward sensible regulatory policies that advance public safety and health. The stance calls for reformation of marijuana laws which are disproportionately enforced against minorities, causing significant fiscal and social costs including the deepening of racial division. Other policy statements addressed the need for paid sick leave and early childhood education.
After a late night session on Syrian refugees, the body voted in favor of a resolution framing concrete steps to address the burgeoning crisis. The JCPA also marked the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide calling for Congress and the Administration to do the same.
The next JCPA national Town Hall will be held in Cleveland in May 2016.
JCPA, the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community, serves as the national coordinating and advisory body for the 16 national and 125 local agencies comprising the field of Jewish community relations.