Historical material provided by Sandra Berman, Archivist for
Early in 1945, a special committee of 20, appointed by the president of the Atlanta Jewish Welfare Fund, met to consider how the adult Jewish organizations in the community could be coordinated to participate more effectively in the community service. Out of this study came the recommendation for the creation of the Atlanta Jewish Community Council. The Council was to serve as a forum for the expression of all views and for action on matters of common interest and concern to the total Jewish community.
In the early years, highlights of activity were:
- Creating a committee to study Jewish education resulting the the establishment of the Atlanta Bureau of Jewish Education
- Studying the needs of the Jewish Aged that resulted in the establishment of the Jewish Home in 1951
- Establishing a Community Calendar
- Conducting a Jewish population study
- Conducting a study for the proposed new Jewish Community Center on Peachtree Road
- Cooperating with the ADL in working to pass the anti-mask, anti-cross burning bills by the Georgia Legislature
- Investigating and acting upon discrimination in housing, employment and advertising
- Monitoring the actions of local hate groups
In addition, in its early days, the Council passed a resolution on slum clearance and passed an anti-lynching resolution. In passing the later, they said,
“We believe the time has come for all good citizens of Georgia to recognize that any violation of the sacredness of human life by mob action is a real threat and danger to the rights and privileges of every citizen.”
Continuing encroachment of religious practices in the public schools was one of the most serious problems, which faced the community relations council and they investigate religion in the public schools.
During the early years of the State of Israel the Council worked to help the community cope with Arab propaganda and boycott concerns. They spearheaded a Community Rally for Peace in the Middle East, featuring Mayor Hartsfield. The Governor, educational leaders, and religious leaders from across Atlanta, joined in support.
In the wake of The Temple Bombing (1958) the Council held an emergency meeting recommending a communal response to the act of violence. There was overwhelming support from the general community and a resolve to strengthen the forces of law and order so that such act would not occur again.
Moving into the 1960’s the Council worked to ensure that steps be taken to “set the record straight” and to keep the community informed of developments surrounding the Eichmann trial. It worked on civil rights issues and integration. At a meeting on March 25, 1964, a motion was passed to recommend to affiliated organizations that they “refrain from holding organizational meetings in places of public accommodations which practice racial or religious discrimination.”
In 1967, the Jewish Community Council merged into the Atlanta Jewish Federation along with the Atlanta Federation for Jewish Social Service and the Atlanta Jewish Welfare Fund. At the merger, the Council became a department of the Atlanta Jewish Federation (now the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta) called Community Relations and Internal Jewish Affairs. The name was later changed to the Community Relations Committee. During the years of affiliation with JFGA, the CRC’s issues included: Church-State relations, Civil Rights, hiring policy at Agnes Scott College, Soviet Jewry, assisting in securing a posthumous pardon of Leo Frank, and Israel.
By 2009 the Committee had come full circle and, once again, became an independent entity, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta.