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(!/31/17) The Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta (JCRCA), the local organization in the Jewish community relations field, opposes President Trump’s executive orders that would restrict entry for refugees from predominantly Muslim countries, halt federal funding for “sanctuary cities,” and expand detention for immigrants and asylum-seekers.

David Bernstein, President of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), our national umbrella organization, stated “We are deeply concerned about President Trump’s actions on immigration and refugees, and the callous decision to take such action on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. These pronouncements not only severely restrict immigration, they instill fear among existing immigrant populations that they are not welcome and may be at risk. . . . . . The ‘sanctuary cities’ provision, especially, threatens to seriously compromise the police’s ability to keep communities safe by undermining trust and communication between police and immigrant populations.”

The executive order suspending immigration from seven majority Muslim countries is intended to “keep America safe”. However, we believe that a policy which closes doors to millions of legitimate travelers in order to prevent a small number of travelers who intend to harm Americans will fall short of making our country safer. This policy runs counter to nondiscrimination, equal treatment and welcoming the stranger; all core Jewish and American values. Further, if implemented will only alienate our relationships in the Muslim world, harm cooperation with allied countries in the fight against radical Islamic terror and only serve to make our country more vulnerable.

The Jewish people know firsthand the consequences of turning away those fleeing persecution. Based on our own immigrant experience and Judaism’s imperative to “welcome the stranger,” the JCRC is advocating on behalf of immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers who hope to build a better life for themselves and their children. Resettled refugees have consistently boosted the economy, and enriched our culture and pluralistic ethos. 91% of refugees are self-sufficient within 180 days of arrival to the United States. Not one refugee has committed a fatal act of terrorism post-9/11 in the U.S.

As the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of refugees, we take this executive order very personally.  The United States currently has one of the most stringent vetting policies in the world (taking 18-36 months) and should continue this careful review in order to keep our country safe. But we are facing a severe international refugee crisis and cannot let our concerns about radical Islamic terrorists undermine another core national purpose—providing a home for immigrants. The American immigrant experience is one of the country’s greatest sources of strength.


Adding your voice may never have been more important that it is today!

BY DAVID BERNSTEIN, President and CEO, Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA)

The Movement for Black Lives platform calling Israel an apartheid state guilty of “genocide” sent shock waves through the Jewish community. It should not have come as a surprise.

I remember seeing scattered signs proclaiming “From Palestine to Ferguson” at protests in Ferguson, Mo. last year. I naively thought that protesters would view such signs as brazen manipulation. I was wrong. A year after Ferguson, a YouTube video on Black-Palestinian solidarity called “When I See Them I See Us” garnered tens of thousands of views. And just a few weeks ago, Black Lives Matter was among several groups protesting for Palestinian rights outside a Hillary Clinton fundraiser hosted by Israeli-American Haim Saban. The link between these two seemingly disparate causes is now undeniable.

There are a number of reasons for this perceived intersection between the plights of African-Americans and Palestinians, but none more salient than the organized Jewish community’s detachment from today’s civil rights movement. Notwithstanding our self-image as modern-day activists walking in the footsteps of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, the community has been largely absent from today’s civil rights tables. It should come as no surprise that we have little influence on a movement we are not involved with. It is past time we re-engage.

Re-engaging will not be simple. It was undoubtedly easier to mobilize Jews in the 1960s against segregationist laws and blatant injustice than it will be confronting today’s structural challenges. While the “new Jim Crow” may not be as explicitly segregationist as the old Jim Crow, the current inequities in our society — particularly our criminal justice system — disproportionately affect African-Americans and other minorities and wreak havoc in the inner city.

Today, the United States incarcerates more than 2 million people, more than any other nation. Among this population, people of color are vastly overrepresented. One out of every 15 black men is currently in jail and one in three will be incarcerated during his lifetime. African-American men and women are far more likely than whites to be harassed by police, and subjected to excessive use of force. They are less likely to receive adequate legal representation from a desperately underfunded, over-extended public defender system. Draconian drug laws put many productive people in jail for long prison sentences. Upon reentry, former inmates are disqualified from many jobs and services and often end up back in jail.

The Jewish community, which prides itself on its historic commitment to social justice, has every reason to join the cause of helping America live up to its own ideals of equality. And if the community wants to have any influence on how today’s civil rights activists view Jews and Jewish issues, it must show up to the planning meetings, press conferences and protests. Moreover, unlike many other social policy issues, criminal justice reform enjoys bipartisan support and should be less divisive within the Jewish community.

How can we mobilize the Jewish community to engage on civil rights?

First, we must do our homework on today’s civil rights landscape. We have to educate ourselves on the issues and identify the people already doing the work. Our traditional partners from civil rights 1.0 are no longer the only voices driving civil rights 2.0. 

Second, we must relax litmus tests that make it harder for us to re-engage. Alan Dershowitz argues that “until and unless Black Lives Matter removes this blood libel from its platform and renounces it, no decent person … should have anything to do with it.” He does not say, however, what we should do after they inevitably refuse to repudiate the platform. Is he suggesting that the Jewish community stay away from civil rights meetings where a Black Lives Matter representative is present? Such litmus tests are a prescription for Jewish isolation, not greater influence over the direction of the movement.

Third, we must help empower Jews of color and young people. Many Jews of color have connections to today’s civil rights movement. Not only can they help their fellow Jews navigate the external challenges, they can aid the community in developing the inner capacity to engage. They can help us talk to ourselves about race before we talk to the outside world.

Fourth, we must find our own voice on civil rights. It will not be easy integrating the Jewish community into civil rights coalitions, some of which hold very different political sensibilities. Young activists routinely invoke phrases like “white supremacy” to describe America’s prevailing power structure, and this may sound extreme to many mainstream Jews. Rather than feeling obliged to use these terms, however, the Jewish community can develop its own social justice vocabulary and come to the table in its own voice.

History will not wait for Jews to come around on our own schedule. We need to jump headfirst into the issues that matter now. It’s time to find our voice and make sure Americans — particularly African-Americans — hear it.


November 1, 2016,  7:00 PM , Selig Center.  Admission is Free. 





This is the final notice for applications to the JCRC Atlanta and the JCPA Frank Family Leadership Institute for 2016 and 2017.  The Institute educates a talented group of young leaders from around the country for involvement in the Jewish community relations field. This is an unique mentoring opportunity for emerging leaders who want to be active in the areas of public policy, public affairs, and intergroup/interfaith relations at both the local and national levels.

The chosen individual(s) will initially fly to Poland and visit Auschwitz/Burkenau.  From there, the group will go to Israel, and meet with government officials, policy experts, and other key individuals.  Then, in 2017, The Frank Fellows will be participating in the annual JCPA Conference to be held in Washington, DC.

The participants will be asked to make a $1,000 payment towards the cost of the trips, and the JCRC Atlanta will be contributing $500.  All other expenses are paid for by the Frank Family Foundation.

We are looking for our future leaders – individuals with the character, creativity, and critical thinking to affect future community relations work.  There is no set age requirement, though most applicants are between 30 and 45.

Past participants, including myself, have been inspired to become engaged in their JCRCs as well as the JCPA, working side by side with the top senior leadership of the JCPA in meetings and programs.  As President of the JCRC Atlanta, I am proud to count myself among the first group of Frank Fellows. The experience invigorated me, as well as another Frank Fellow, JCRC Atlanta Vice President Jon Barash, to become involved in local community relations work.  We hope you will help us identify some exceptional individuals who will have an impact on future community relations work. 

Please click on the flyer below if you want more information.  If you have any individuals you would like to nominate, or need further information, please reply to this message or email  

The application deadline is next Friday, July 15, 2016, so please don’t delay!

Best Regards,

Harvey J. Rickles
President, JCRC Atlanta

Frank Fellows Opportunity

_2016 annual meeting combined

On Sunday, August 9, 2015,

Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta,

brought together some of Atlanta’s “Opinion Leaders”

We met at the intersection of:


Jewish Thought,

and Conflict Resolution

How can we address the threat to our community that stems

from disagreements over what is best for Israel?


Civility Article

Town hall meeting web site final

Anti-Semitism Resolution 3.0

Criminal Justice-Marijuana Resolution 3.0

Early Childhood Education Resolution 3.0

Paid Sick Leave Resolution 3 0

Armenian Genocide Resolution 3.0


JCRCA May 5th Dr Ken Stein Presentation

Genocide Prevention-2015 jpeg