JCRC Update | June 26, 2014

by Matt Goldberg

Jewish Community Relations Council, Director

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion

This opening line of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is very well known, and it is extremely important to us in the Jewish community. It is no secret that we live in a country where the vast majority shares a particular religion (in various denominations and forms), and we top out at roughly two percent of the population.

Our founding fathers wanted to divorce our country from an established religion and at the same time wanted to respect the rights of the minority, and our laws and decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court (mostly) pay testament to their wishes.

Louisville is a very religiously diverse and tolerant community. In addition to the many different denominations of Christianity we have here, there are also significant numbers of Jews (of course), Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Baha’is, just to name a few of the faiths that make up the diverse fabric of our religious community. The numbers for these different non-Christian groups are growing as well, and it is something of which we should be proud.

However, rare incidents still occur that remind us that we need to defend our freedom of religion and freedom from religion. I occasionally receive phone calls from Jewish parents of students in public schools asking for assistance because their children were exposed to something religious in nature at school, something that made them feel very uncomfortable and hyper-aware that they are members of a religious minority.

Some recent incidents involved coaches who invited the Fellowship of Christian Athletes to a sports camp or after school practice and encouraged them to proselytize. Thankfully we have a very good relationship with JCPS, Oldham County Schools, and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. At a recent meeting with JCPS leadership and FCA representatives, I explained in detail some of the complaints that I received, and they were quite receptive and agreeable to the recommendations that I made. that would show respect for students who adhere to minority religions while allowing FCA to serve Christian athletes.

If you are aware of any situation in school or elsewhere, requiring an advocate to intercept and prevent incidents like this, please feel free to contact me. As we look ahead towards the fall and a new school year, we will continue to monitor and work with our schools to ensure they are welcoming to a diverse student body, many of whom have very different beliefs.

Bring Back our Boys

We are all familiar with the “Bring Back our Girls” social media campaign to free hundreds of girls kidnapped by the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria. Now comes the “Bring Back our Boys” Campaign to secure the release of three Israeli boys kidnapped by Hamas in the West Bank.

Israel is still conducting a massive military operation to both find these young men and also to curtail significantly Hamas’ capabilities in the West Bank. For example, Israel has rearrested over 50 Hamas terrorists who were released in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. They are also targeting Hamas businesses and banks throughout the West Bank. They have even gone so far as to toughen conditions for Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails, such as not allowing them to watch the World Cup.

Israel is making it clear to Hamas that being in the kidnapping business is not worth it. The families of these three boys (Eyal, Gilad, and Naftali) are extremely appreciative of the solidarity and support of many around the world.

We can show our support through the “Bring Back our Boys” Facebook campaign (Bring Back Our Boys Facebook Page), twitter campaign (#bringbackourboys), and Instagram campaign (Bring Back our Boys). We hope and pray that these young men will be home safe with their families as soon as possible.


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