Who Speaks for the Jews?
On the heels of a painful year with the threat of COVID and isolation and having just experienced Passover seders, we have a heightened awareness of the disparity of resources in our country, of the injustice to some by our criminal justice system, of wrought elections and polarization, distrust of leadership, the media and even each other. Questions arise as to how we respond to Black Lives Matter? With whom do we make coalitions? How do we deal with growing anti-Semitism?
Historically much of the organized Jewish community has invested itself in democracy, pluralism, protection of Jews and other vulnerable groups from discrimination and hate in this country, side by side with assuring there is a secure and strong Israel. We have been able to transcend partisan divides and find common ground to work together on these goals.
While no group can claim to speak for the Jewish community, there is an organization that brings many together to a common table and that works to build consensus on issues of concern.
That organization is the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. Under its umbrella are 16 national agencies such as ADL, Hadassah, NCJW, the four denominations of Judaism (Orthodox, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist) and 125 community relations councils. The Atlanta Jewish Community Relations Council is one of the 125 community JCRCs.
On April 25-26 JCPA is holding its annual meeting, virtually. JCPA2021.ORG. There are superb national speakers, workshops, policy discussions. You need not be a member of any organization to join the sessions. You do need to register.
Racial justice is a major theme of this year’s meeting.
The resolutions session, in particular, identifies the platform for new policy, which is added to the foundation of policy which has been formulated and affirmed through the close to 80 years of the history of the organization. This year there are resolutions to be considered on the Abraham Accords and expanding Middle East peace, climate change, voter access, and genocide of the Uygher.
The deliberations are a model for civility and an education in the face of deeply held points of view, but the process ends in consensus, … even if it’s agreement that we can’t agree upon.
“The Process is the Product”
You may identify in the course of the JCPA annual meeting that spark your interest, … and which organizations, in the plethora of groups, you might wish to invest your time. It may be your synagogue social action committee, NCJW, AJC, the Atlanta Jewish Community Relations Council, Federation, Hadassah, the JFCS kosher pantry …
Perhaps no one can speak for the Jews, but at the JCPA annual meeting, you’ll hear a lot of folks vying for that opportunity.