FYI from JCRC: The year ahead


L’Shanah Tovah from the Jewish Community Relations Council! We look forward to a year ahead of continuing to advocate for Israel and the Jewish people, engage with other organizations in acts of tikkun olam, and build relationships within and beyond our Central Florida Jewish community. As 5777 gets underway, we want to give you a preview of what we will be working on in the coming months:

Being more proactive on Israel

All too often, we extol Israel during times of strife; when Israel is attacked, either physically or verbally, we spring into action. While we will continue to defend our beloved land and people, we must also reach out to educate others about Israel when no specific conflict is calling our attention. We will be working with Israeli government officials, the ADL and others to organize community education events on topics as diverse as what American law enforcement can learn from Israel to the relationship between Israel and Latin America and the Caribbean.

A renewed focus on our education system

In this past year, JCRC appointed liaisons to the Orange and Seminole County school boards, which has allowed us to have an “inside view” of the issues facing Jewish students, teachers and school district employees. We sent personal emails to each principal in both counties (nearly 300!) regarding the Jewish holiday calendar, and we’re working with the ADL on the current and regrettable conflicts with the Jewish holiday calendar and state-mandated test days in 2017. We continue to work with the Institute for Curriculum Services to ensure that Israel is represented fairly, accurately and thoroughly in public school textbooks. We encourage you to reach out to our school board liaisons (in Orange, Seth Hyman; and in Seminole, Eric Trabin) with any concerns you may have regarding the schools.

Establishing a book donation program with an early-education center in Pine Hills

Our local early-education centers that serve low- and extremely low-income populations are in short supply of even the most basic tools for learning. For many children at these centers, the first time they will ever have seen a book is when they arrive the first time for day-long subsidized care. Most administrators at these centers desperately want the children to love learning and hope to instill this in them through constant exposure to books and reading. JCRC is in the process of setting up a program with a specific center and will be asking all area agencies and synagogues to help gather age-appropriate books for donation. If your congregation or organization is interested, please let us know.

Hosting a seminar on interfaith relations

On Monday, Nov. 14, we are delighted to present Turning Points for Interfaith Dialogue: A Seminar on Nostra Aetate, in partnership with the Interfaith Council, the Diocese of Orlando, the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center, and the Peace and Justice Institute at Valencia College. Nostra Aetate, the Vatican’s 1965 Declaration on Relations with Non-Christian Faiths, was particularly seminal in improving relations among Catholics and Jews. We will learn about this important document, its impact and how similar turning points of interfaith dialogue can provide a path forward for understanding, acceptance and partnership. The seminar will feature a presentation by Dr. Ruth Langer, professor of Jewish Studies and associate director, Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College, as well as facilitated table discussions among attendees and leaders representing multiple faith traditions. The evening, which includes dinner, will run from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Northview Building on the UCF Campus. A nominal charge is associated to attend.

Engagement on human trafficking

As the National Council of Jewish Women has recently reported, human trafficking is a large and growing menace in this country, with a $3 billion a year impact. This is particularly problematic in Orlando, with its transient population and dependence on low-wage hourly jobs. JCRC will be hosting a screening of Tricked, a comprehensive documentary on this modern-day spin on slavery and its mostly young, female victims. Please contact us if your congregation would like to participate.

And to start off 5777 with a Yasher Koach to Barbara Weinreich!

On Oct. 13, JCRC’s own Barbara Weinreich, longtime committee member and former chair, will be the recipient of the Atlantic Institute’s Peace and Dialogue Award. Barbara, who is also deeply involved with the Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center, the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, Temple Israel, the Jewish Pavilion, and UCF’s Judaic Studies Department, is a shining example of how to build relationships within and beyond the community. We deeply admire her for her wise counsel, good cheer, unwavering commitment to the Central Florida Jewish community, and equally unwavering commitment to causes of social justice, tolerance and peace.

We will see you here in this space again next month! As always, if you have any questions about this column or about JCRC in general, please contact Marli Porth at


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