by Leon Wahba, CRC Chair
I thank Community for this opportunity to provide the Jewish community with an update detailing the many issues that our Community Relations Council (CRC) has dealt with in the last few months.
To begin with, I am delighted to report that we have concluded our national search and hired a very well qualified young man to become our new CRC Director. Matt Goldberg comes to us from Baltimore where he was a program leader for the Jewish Funds for Justice and has been a project director for the American Jewish Society for Service. Goldberg also has a law degree and is committed to social Justice. He is a very articulate individual who greatly impressed the search committee with his knowledge.
He will be starting on May 4, and I look forward to working with him and introducing him to our community. Watch Community for more information about him.
On Sunday, April 11, members of the CRC, with considerable help from our rabbis and cantors, organized the very well attended Yom HaShoah program at Adath Jeshurun. The Courier-Journal did a very good piece about the event and reported the fact that the solemn program also reminded everyone that many non-Jews were also persecuted and killed during this darkest period in world history. And, that since then other acts of genocide have occurred such as what ensued in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Darfur. (See Yom HaShoah story.)
In the days and weeks just before Passover a several members of CRC and community volunteers helped plan and organize a total of 10 Seders at various churches and schools across Kentuckiana.
A sub-committee of the CRC has recently befriended a local organization of prominent Pakistani-American Muslim physicians. The intent is for our two communities to get to know and understand each other better. Since then, this group of very generous physicians has contributed $7,000 towards Hope for Haiti, the tikkun olam project sponsored by Temple Shalom and Congregation Keneseth Israel for earthquake relief and a water purification project.
We are also working with the physicians group to develop a citywide interfaith youth group. And, upon reading our letter to The Courier-Journal, they endorsed our opposition to the unconstitutional “Bible Bill” that was then being promoted in Frankfort. and which bill has now been defeated.
Immediately upon hearing that a Buddhist Temple in South Louisville had been defaced, the CRC promptly joined with Interfaith Paths to Peace to condemn these racist acts and convey to our Buddhist neighbors and friends that we stand with them.
Much of the work CRC does is done quietly and the results can be found in greater understanding among diverse groups, changes in attitudes and increased sensitivity in programming.
CRC is an advocate for Israel. When issues arise on local college campuses, CRC members are there to monitor the situation, provide students with the materials they need to counter anti-Israel activities and to arrange pro-Israel programming, often working closely with national organizations like AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and JCPA (the Jewish Council for Public Affairs).
CRC is also there to monitor government activity – locally, nationally and internationally – and to speak out on issues of social justice and other matters of concern to the Jewish community. We maintain channels of communication with all our elected officials.
CRC often has detailed discussions about pressing issues, like the responsible lending initiative championed by Amy Shir, examining all sides of the issue and sometimes taking a stand.
In addition, CRC builds coalitions among different faith communities, coming together when our interests converge and speaking out when necessary. Currently, Presbyterian Church/USA is preparing for their national meetings at which a resolution recommending divestment from companies that do business with Israel (specifically targeting Caterpillar), aiding in what they call Israel’s repression of the Palestinian people, will be considered.
CRC is the Jewish community’s voice in the general community and a critical part of the Jewish Community of Louisville. It is successful because CRC is comprised of a dedicated group of volunteers who make this critical work a priority every day.
Watch future issues of Community for more CRC news.