What our JCRC is all about
A monthly update on current issues from the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando’s Jewish Community Relations Council
Hello, and welcome to the first monthly column from the Jewish Community Relations Council! We look forward to sharing news, information, and action items on how you can make a difference in Central Florida and beyond.
For our first column, we want to simply introduce ourselves and tell you what we do. As part of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, the mission of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) is to live our Jewish interests and values by engaging in public affairs and public policy through advocacy, education and social action with a unified, accurate and informed voice.
We are one of about 125 JCRCs around the country, most of which are part of Federations, and we are fortunate to have an outstanding umbrella agency, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, which provides us with briefings from top government and issue experts, helps connect us to speakers and stands ready to answer our questions.
JCRC has three primary areas of focus: Israel advocacy, community relations, and tikun olam (repairing the world), all of which are undergirded with the values of mutual respect and fostering understanding. As a nonpartisan, nondenominational group, JCRC is mindful that we represent a diverse community, and recognize that we must, to the best of our ability, recognize “All Jews, all views.” We aim to serve as the convener of all Jewish organizations, agencies and religious institutions around issues relevant to the Jewish community.
JCRC ensures that the Jewish community is represented when and where important decisions are made in Central Florida. For example, JCRC members now serve as school board liaisons to the Orange and Seminole County school boards, attending meetings and reporting back any issues. We serve as a rapid-response team when issues of separation of church and state, anti-Semitic or anti-Israel bias or ignorance surface within Central Florida; most recently, JCRC members contested the content of several billboards displayed locally by a national anti-Israel group. We work to strengthen and promote a better understanding of Israel by both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities through advocacy and education, like our February session on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, our outreach to academic and church conventions that may have BDS on their agendas, and the BDS resources on our website.
JCRC impacts city, state and federal policy through interaction with legislative leaders on issues of concern and importance to the Jewish community, most recently calling on our various members of Congress to reauthorize the Lautenberg Amendment for persecuted religious minorities. We provide the opportunity for community members to learn about various political processes, such as last summer’s forum with U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson on the Iran nuclear deal and an upcoming discussion with Dr. Steven Windmueller on the Jewish vote in the 2016 election. We develop positive and supportive relationships with interfaith and interethnic communities across the region, who may then become allies on issues of concern and importance to the Jewish community—we are pleased to be co-organizing an event with the Interfaith Council and the Orlando Diocese on religious dialog this fall. And we hope to promote tikun olam through our involvement with the Central Florida Coalition for the Homeless, collecting toys and books on Community Mitzvah Day, and creating a volunteer hotline so that our community members are aware of opportunities offered by our agencies and synagogues.
We look forward to seeing you here in this space again next month! In the meantime, should you have any questions, please contact JCRC’s staff director, Marli Porth, at email@example.com.