Our community’s gem in its Diamond Jubilee

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When our Washington-area Jewish community needs a voice in Annapolis, Richmond or before the D.C. Council, or when we need representation in broader organizational or faith group gatherings, or when we need to present in an organized fashion on any number of social or political issues, we rely on the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington to serve as our communal representative, connector and advocate.

While the JCRC is not as visible as a synagogue or Jewish community center, its work is just as critical to the health, safety and vitality of Jewish life in Greater Washington. Indeed, in many respects, JCRC is the glue that holds our Jewish community together, and connects us with our broader community.

JCRC builds political coalitions and expands organizational relationships. It endorses and advocates for legislation of interest or concern to our community. It brings local Jews together with their government representatives and with other communal organizations and religious groups, and develops meaningful relationships that enhance the stature and credibility of our Jewish community. While we don’t yet know who will be the next governor in Maryland or Virginia, or who the next mayor of Washington will be, we do know that whoever that is, that person will take a call from the JCRC.

If you attended the communal Yom Hashoah ceremonies, or the ongoing vigil in support of Alan Gross, the Potomac resident imprisoned in Cuba, you might be interested in knowing that both were organized by JCRC. If your synagogue has enhanced security equipment, part of the cost was likely funded by grant money awarded through the efforts of JCRC. Or, if your agency has benefited from a state or local program, you can probably thank JCRC for helping to get that done. And it has done all of this while remaining active in social justice, serious interfaith work and Israel advocacy.

On top of that, JCRC is growing. In an economy that was on the brink of collapse four years ago and remains weak, the JCRC has increased its fundraising, hired additional staff, and expanded its work. Much of the success of the agency can be attributed to the indefatigable Ron Halber, JCRC’s executive director for the past 11 years, who has invigorated the JCRC and helped make it the reliable, effective and respected force it has become. Halber’s JCRC mixes civil but unapologetic advocacy with quiet, effective behind-the-scenes work.

At Washington Jewish Week, we appreciate JCRC’s belief that a Jewish community and its newspaper are on the same side of things – even when there are disagreements – and that open lines of honest communication serve the best interests of the community.

Next month the JCRC will mark its 75th anniversary. We believe there is much to celebrate.

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