By Jamie Ratner,
Having been involved with my local JCRC for over four years, I was honored to be part of the Lois & Larry Frank Fellowship Program through JCPA this year. The fellowship started in January and ended at JCPA2016, JCPA’s annual meeting. Though engaged at the local level, I had little understanding of the role of JCPA with respect to my CRC and the Jewish social and political action agenda. While I must admit that it is clearly a time of great change for JCPA, and I remain a bit unsure of how things all fit together, what I can attest to is that my participation in this program not only solidified my dedication to Jewish communal work, it also gave me a wide group of resources to leverage as I continue my engagement with seven amazing peers, a talented staff, and several thoughtful senior leaders.
In thinking of the conference, JCPA2016, I found myself deeply inspired to continue my personal work in the Indianapolis community in several ways. First, domestic policy remains a priority for me, not only because of my thankfulness for all I have and my need to assist others with less of a voice, but also because I see this as our only way forward in strengthening our community relationships with other minority groups. This was reiterated in the amazing discussion led by Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, facilitated by Steven Dettlebach, of Baker Hostetler. This connects heavily to my second priority, which was inspired by an amazing session with Imam Abdullah Antepli and Samar Kaukab, regarding new directions in Jewish-Muslim engagement. Only through getting to know each other can we bind these peoples together, and I hope to be a part of this as our communities move forward.
I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the Unconference and Café sessions in looking for grassroots assistance in driving forward the strategic planning of the JCPA. I found these sessions complex and fascinating, with so many differing opinions to reconcile (as is so often the case in our community). What an opportunity for all of us to grow, better relate to each other, and leverage that learning as we expand our outreach in our community relations work.
We are fortunate in Indianapolis to already be approaching our community relations work in this way. However, participation in the Frank Fellows reaffirmed my commitment at the local level to affecting change through building these bridges of relatability.