Last week’s JCPA2016 was a resounding success. Hundreds of people gathered at the Westin in Cleveland, Ohio to honor our outgoing chair, Susan W. Turnbull, and to set a vision for the future of the Jewish community relations field. Attendees of JCPA2016 also honored Joyce Garver Keller, z”l, and Warren “Renny” Wolfson, both from Cleveland, with the Tikkun Olam Award. Although Joyce passed away two weeks before the conference, attendees paid tribute to her life, legacy, and dedication to the Jewish community.
The theme of JCPA2016, “Let’s Move Forward Together,” called upon participants to strengthen the community relations network, redouble their efforts to improve our nation’s political discourse, and commit to solving pressing societal problems. The conference addressed topics such as polarization in the political system; Israel’s increasing isolation; and challenges to civil rights. At the ‘plenum’ session of JCPA2016, delegates from across the nation also gathered and unanimously passed a resolution honoring Rabbi Doug Kahn, who is retiring as executive director of the San Francisco JCRC.
JCPA2016 also marked the conclusion of Susan W. Turnbull’s term as JCPA chair. Turnbull, who previously chaired Jewish Women International (JWI) and is a former Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, helped steer the JCPA through major organizational shifts, including an executive transition, initiation of a comprehensive strategic planning process, and a renewed focus on online engagement that includes an integrated web presence and new website.
Former Congressmen Tom Davis (R-VA) and Martin Frost (D-TX) spoke to attendees about their new book, The Partisan Divide: Congress in Crisis. At their session, entitled “Political Polarization,” the authors discussed the issues that they believe are keeping Washington from functioning and their solutions to solving partisan gridlock. William Daroff from the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Connie Schultz, and Israeli Consul General to the Mid-Atalantic States Yaron Sideman were other notable speakers who joined us this year.
JCPA2016 also had its first-ever “unconference.” At the unconference, attendees decided which topics they wanted to discuss and conducted their own mini-sessions. Dozens of attendees arranged mini-sessions on issues impacting their community, from BDS to community engagement tactics.
Be sure to check out our Facebook page soon for pictures and updates from the conference!