JCPA convened 300 Jewish professionals and civic lay leaders from February 8-11 in Washington, D.C., for the JCPA2020 National Conference. Participants tackled today’s most challenging issues in a series of powerful plenaries and workshops, and left with the skills, training, and networks they need to be successful in their community relations work all across the country.
Michael Fromm (Chair, JCPA), Susan Abravanel (Co-Chair, JCPA2020 Conference), Walter Spiegel (Co-Chair, JCPA2020 Conference)
Programs and topics included:
- Development of a strategic roadmap to leverage the power of the community relations field to combat antisemitism and hate.
- Criminal justice reform track.
- Israel sessions on politicization, understanding current events, and countering delegitimization on campus.
- Workshops on JCPA’s public policy priorities, including immigration, gun violence prevention, civil rights, and religious liberty.
- Adoption of six new policy resolutions by the Delegates Assembly.
JCPA2020 VIDEO & RESOURCES
Fighting Antisemitism and Hate
JCPA2020 featured a comprehensive antisemitism track that included a high-level plenary session with Deborah Lipstadt, a movie screening and talkback on Who Will Write Your History, and two interactive sessions featuring innovative grassroots state and national projects and programs, followed by sessions to build a roadmap that leverages community relations expertise to combat antisemitism and hate. To read the roadmap, click here.
Plenary: Leveraging Community Relations to Fight Antisemitism
Antisemitism and hate crimes have risen significantly in the U.S., sending shock waves through the Jewish community. The high-level panelists provided concrete recommendations and strategies that focused on the threats from both the right and left extremes of America. The discussion was an excellent beginning to developing strategies for the community relations field, as the conference aimed to bolster community relations efforts to combat antisemitism at the local and national levels.
Sponsored by Touro College
Movie Screening: Who Will Write Our History
The conference opened on Saturday evening with a movie screening of Who Will Write Our History, which documents the efforts of a secret band of Jews who risked their lives to record what happened to the 450,000 Jews inside the Warsaw Ghetto. JCPA was honored to host a discussion on Holocaust education’s importance, and our responsibility to document the truth of what is happening in our communities in this era of social media and fake news.
Cosponsored by JCRC of Greater Washington and World Jewish Congress
Plenary: From the Frontlines: Building a Roadmap to Combat Antisemitism and Hate – Part 1
This panel highlighted innovative efforts from Jewish community relations councils and national agencies to counter hate and antisemitism, followed by an interactive program to develop a roadmap for the field.
Presenters: Jackie Congedo, JCRC of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, Karen Elam, The Levine Center to End Hate, Jewish Federation of Gr. Rochester; Stephanie Hausner, JFNA/JCPA Israel Action Network, Elana Kahn, JCRC of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation; Lindsey Mintz, Indianapolis JCRC
Plenary: Antisemitism: Building a Roadmap – Part 2
This session highlighted national legislative advocacy initiatives of national Jewish organizations, followed by a second interactive session focused on the eight strategic priority areas identified in the first session.
- Strengthen relationships and work on common causes in coalition with other ethnic, racial, and faith communities.
- Hold courageous conversations with the Jewish community and with coalition partners
- Organize educational programs and summits, and develop centers to address antisemitism and hate, building allies in local communities and online
- Mobilize and advocate at the local, state, and national levels on legislative priorities to combat antisemitsm and hate
- Promote Jewish civic engagement through a Jewish lens in local and state government, committees, commission and NGOS
- Work with local and statewide K-12 and higher education students and administrative leadership – both institutional and organizational – to build awareness, educate, and provide curricula and other resources on antisemitism and hate.
- Support increased awareness and understanding of communal security needs and build out the capacity of securing Jewish and other institutions.
- Educate the Jewish community on distinction between criticism of Israel and antisemitism.
Criminal Justice Reform
The inequities people of color suffer at the hands of the justice system constitute one of the most pressing civil rights issues in the U.S. Beginning in the 1970s, the U.S. prison population exploded, contributing to poverty, income inequality, and family instability. Today, the U.S. incarcerates a full quarter of the world’s total prison population, with state prisons housing over 85% of those incarcerated, which is why local mobilization is critical. Throughout the nation, ascending leaders of diverse communities are working together on reform. JCPA’s Criminal Justice Reform Initiative engages the Jewish community in this civil rights crisis and elevates the Jewish voices working in this space.
Plenary: The Faith Voice in the Movement to End Mass Incarceration
This session brought together leaders working on bold national grassroots criminal justice initiatives. Participants learned about reform efforts and the influence the faith community, including the Jewish community, can have on transformative change. Initiatives included the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights’ Vision for Justice 2020 and Beyond and The Multifaith Initiative to End Mass Incarceration’s EMI Toolkit.
Moderator: Paul Fishman, Arnold & Porter | Speakers: Reverend John Vaughn, Ebenezer Baptist Church; Sakira Cook, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; Jason Flom, Lava Records & Lava Music Publishing; Evie Litwork, Witness to Mass Incarceration
Workshop: Policing, Bail, and Sentencing: The Keys to Ending Mass Incarceration
Police-community tensions are high, and racial and economic disparities permeate the system, especially in bail and sentencing. In this session, experts spoke about reform efforts and ways the Jewish community can play a bridging role and join in this movement, in addition to how communities are responding to reforms given New York’s wave of antisemitic violence.
Moderator: Dr. Faye Taxman, George Mason University | Speakers: Ret. Police Chief Chris Burbank, Center for Policing Equity; Zachary Katznelson, Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice & Incarceration Reform, Insha Rahman, Vera Institute
Plenary: Rebuilding the Black-Jewish Alliance to Fight For a Better Country
Attendees heard from one of today’s courageous leaders, Representative Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), founder of the newly-created, bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations. The Caucus brings together politicians from both communities and both sides of the aisle to learn from each other and advocate for joint concerns. Representative Lawrence shared her vision for rebuilding trust, relationships, and alliances to fight for justice and against antisemitism.
Workshop: Changing Communities: Black-Jewish Relations in a Time of Growing Antisemitism and Racism
Over the past year, there have been rising tensions–with tragic consequences–between local African and Caribbean American communities and their Jewish neighbors in New York and New Jersey, highlighting the need for the Jewish community to reexamine how we build a shared society and combat hate. Panelists explored what intergroup alliances really look like, ways to build good will and oppose bigotry, and best practices in meeting challenges, such as demographic changes and gentrification and racial and religious conflict.
Policy and Advocacy
Workshop: Welcoming the Stranger: The Case for Ending Criminalization, Detention, and Deportation
Though decades in the making, changes to U.S. immigration policy over the last three years has cut off avenues for legal immigration, undermined due process, separated families, forced asylum seekers to remain in Mexico, and invested unprecedented resources in detention and deportation. In this session, experts discussed the impact of these changes, and successful strategies for mobilizing communities and supporting local efforts to aid immigrants, rooted in our Jewish values.
Workshop: If Not Now, Then What? The Present and Future of Climate Change
In this session, top Jewish and interfaith experts offered concrete suggestions on why, how, and with whom to prioritize climate change as a core Jewish communal concern. Attendees learned about the coalitional value of Jewish visibility, especially around environmental justice; the multi-faith promise of a growing response, linking Jewish communities deeply with our Christian, Muslim, and other counterparts; and the intergenerational urgency of staying relevant, as young people around the world lead the charge to address the climate crisis.
Moderator: Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) | Speakers: Cassandra Carmichael, National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE); Nigel Savage, Hazon; Joelle Novey, Interfaith Power and Light for MD-DC-NoVA
Workshop: Gun Violence Prevention: The Advocacy Landscape
In 2019, we witnessed more than 400 mass shootings and nearly 40,000 deaths across the nation due to firearms. NOW is the time for action at the federal and state level to protect our houses of worship, our schools, and every American. In this workshop, leaders in the gun violence prevention field presented an overview of gun violence prevention advocacy efforts at the national and state levels, and suggested how participants can take action and build support for legislation in their own state and community.
Workshop: Religious Liberty and Anti-Discrimination Protections (Off-the-Record)
JCPA held an off-the-record discussion on the increasingly complex and fraught relationship between civil rights and religious liberty. Panelists discussed the implications of recent court rulings and newly-released federal regulation that aim to rollback anti-discrimination protections and expand religious liberty protections for certain groups. The conversation focused on the current and potential impacts of these changes, particularly for women, the LGBTQ+ community, and religious minorities—including Jews.
Moderator: David Bohm, Danna McKitrick, P.C./JCPA Policy Advisory Committee Chair | Speakers: Nathan Diament, Orthodox Union Advocacy Center; Richard B. Katskee, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Professor Ronna Greff Schneider, University of Cincinnati
If you are interested in learning more about these issues, please contact Tammy Gilden at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Plenary: The Power of Faith Voices
JCPA carries out its robust national policy advocacy agenda in coalition with national interfaith coalitions. In this session, our partners from several Washington faith-based organizations led a discussion on the important role interfaith voices have in the American policy landscape. The panel also shared current legislative priority issues, including immigration, social safety net, criminal justice reform, and fighting racism, and more to help prepare participants going to the Hill for visits with their Members of Congress.
Moderator: Sister Simone Campbell, NETWORK – Advocates for Justice, Inspired by Catholic Sisters | Speakers: Katie Adams, United Church of Christ; Rev. Aundreia Alexander, Esq., National Council of Churches; Amelia Kegan, Friends Committee on National Legislation
Click here to watch the video.
Plenary: Elevating Jewish Values on Poverty and Human Needs
JCPA convenes Jewish organizations with whom we partner to amplify legislative and policy concerns on major issues impacting our country. For this panel, JCPA brought together representatives from some of our partner agencies who are advocating for the most vulnerable on issues such as poverty, the federal budget, food insecurity, reproductive care, and disability rights.
Moderator: Corey Shapiro, JCPA Policy Committee Vice Chair | Speakers: Darcy Hirsh, Jewish Federations of North America/Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies; Dorian Karp, Jewish Women International; Liza Lieberman, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger; Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Respectability/Mizrahi Family Charitable Fund
Plenary: Israel and Peace in an Age of Polarization: Getting Beyond Zero Sum (Off-the-Record)
Dr. Tal Becker gave an off-the-record keynote address with recommendations on maintaining support for a two-state solution during a time of politicization of Israel. If Israel was once a great unifying force in the American Jewish community, it seems today to be increasingly a source of division. As politics in America becomes ever more polarized, the discussion over Israel and the pursuit of peace becomes yet another partisan issue pulling communities apart. Is it possible for Israel to be a bipartisan issue moving forward? What does peace activism look like when the prospect of peace seems so far away? And what is the future of U.S.-Israel relations when both communities are so divided.
Speaker: Dr. Tal Becker, Shalom Hartmann Institute, Israeli Legal Expert, Peace Negotiator
Sponsored by the Shalom Hartman Institute
Plenary: Current Events in Israel: Unpacking the Headlines
This session was a lively discussion by policy and academic experts on recent events in Israel: a deadlocked political process bringing Israel to an unprecedented third election in one year, calls for West Bank annexation, security threats from the north and south, and the Trump administration’s peace plan.
Workshop: Speaking About Israel in Progressive Circles
While considerable attention is paid to researching, analyzing, and opining about the Israel conversation in progressive circles, precious little time is spent actually engaging constructively with the left on Israel. Given current events, this session focused on what works and doesn’t work and what strategies and best practices have been effective.
Workshop: Campus Climate: Israel, Antisemitism and the Challenges They Pose
Antisemitism on campus is of great concern to the community relations field. This session addressed how members of the college ecosystem are handling the crucial issues of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. Speakers included students, a professor, an administrator, and a Hillel professional, who shared their approaches to these topics, as well as how different universities are handling them. They also learned about the importance of taking a cross-disciplinary approach to managing these campus issues.
Workshop: Social Innovation, Inclusivity and Coexistence in Israel
Israel is one of the most dynamic and heterogenous societies in the world. It faces a myriad of challenges in managing its diversity and its relationship with its Palestinian neighbors in the West Bank. How are the Israeli government and civic organizations contending with these challenges? What are successes it can build on and where have we seen innovation? How can American Jews help? Participants joined experts from Israel and the US for a highly interactive session.
Moderator: Stephanie Hausner, JFNA/JCPA Israel Action Network | Speakers: Revital Duek, Tsofen; Kevin Rachlin, Alliance for Middle East Peace (ALLMEP); Ambassador Yehuda Yaakov, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
JCPA2020 Awards Reception
Nathan Lewin Receives JCPA’s Prestigious Albert Chernin Award
Nathan Lewin, renowned First Amendment rights advocate, was honored with JCPA’s 2020 Albert D. Chernin Award, presented by Nancy K. Kaufman, CEO Emerita of NCJW and 2019 Chernin Award recipient.
Named after JCPA’s Executive Vice Chair Emeritus Albert D. Chernin, the Award is given to Jewish leaders whose life work best exemplifies a commitment to freedom and the protection of the U.S. Bill of Rights. Past recipients include Senator Ron Wyden, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Rabbi David Saperstein, Professor Lawrence Tribe, and Alan Dershowitz. This year we are honored to present the Award to Nathan Lewin.
Tikkun Olam Award Recipients
JCPA presents its Tikkun Olam Awards annually to individuals who have displayed extraordinary efforts to make the world a better place and a passion for civic engagement and justice. The Awards were presented by Michael Fromm, JCPA Chair. Click here to read the press release.
St. Louis JCRC Receives the 2020 Program Excellence Award
The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of St. Louis was awarded JCPA’s 2020 Program Excellence Award for their day camp for refugee children at the International Institute of St. Louis. The award recognizes an exemplary, outstanding, and/or innovative program that advances the goals of the Jewish community relations field and serves as a model for other communities. Launched in 2016, the Jewish Coalition for New Americans Day Camp is a four-week, half-day camp for refugee children that helps support new American families by removing roadblocks to success in the United States.
Delegates Assembly: 2020 Resolutions Session
JCPA’s Delegates Assembly voted to adopt six new policy resolutions covering gun violence prevention, antisemitism, restorative and rehabilitative justice, government workers’ right to unionize, federal judicial nominations, and the provision of Kashruth food at JCPA-sponsored meetings. These resolutions, which are now officially part of the Jewish community relations public policy platform, are the result of a six-month national policy-setting process that begins in August. Click here for the press release.
Gun Violence Prevention
This resolution outlines a range of measures the Jewish community should support to help prevent gun violence, argues for greater restrictions on concealed and open carry, and calls on the Jewish community to work with partners to educate and mobilize their communities on gun violence prevention.
Adopting the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism
This resolution adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) non-legally binding Working Definition of Antisemitism for use by the Jewish community relations field. This resolution builds on the 2015 Resolution on Antisemitism.
Restorative and Rehabilitative Justice
This resolution urges the Jewish community relations field to support a restorative and rehabilitative justice approach to public safety.
Government Workers’ Right to Unionize
This resolution calls on the Jewish community relations field to advocate for legislation that guarantees federal government workers’ right to bargain collectively at the state and local government level.
Federal Judicial Nominations
This resolution calls on the president and the Senate to ensure that federal judicial nominees are qualified, impartial arbiters of justice dedicated to upholding civil liberties and constitutional rights, and who reflect the diversity of the American public.
The Provision of Kashruth Food at JCPA-Sponsored Meetings
This resolution codifies JCPA’s existing practice of providing food at our meetings that meets the needs of our constituency.
Photos by Risdon Photo