The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) serves as the representative voice of the organized Jewish community of Greater New Orleans. The JCRC is responsible for education and advocacy regarding Jews, Israel, and public policies of concern to Jews and the Jewish community. The Council comprises representatives from all Jewish communal organizations, a rabbi from each synagogue, and individuals appointed by the Federation and local leadership. The Council identifies issues, develops programs, and articulates positions that support our Jewish values. Special attention is directed toward issues concerning support of the State of Israel and promotion of a democratic and pluralistic American society.
The JCRC is comprised of the three subcommittees: External Relations, Jewish Outreach, and Government Relations. For more information, or to get involved, call 504-780-5600.
External Relations collaborates with other non-profits in the Greater New Orleans community to promote the JCRC’s mission and to engage in social action. This committee organizes activities aimed at helping New Orleans citizens and fostering strong community relationships.
The pursuit of strong relationships between all racial, ethnic, religious, and social groups in the Greater New Orleans area is a vital component to the recovery of the region and the general well-being of the local Jewish community.
Jewish Outreach works within the Jewish community to cultivate new relationships and increase involvement of less-engaged community members. We focus on a long-term strategy for deepening the engagement of those on the periphery of Jewish life. Outreach achieves its goal through a series of personal contacts with friendly, trained Jewish community representatives at fun, educational, and meaningful programs and events. We reach out to groups such as Woldenberg Village, LGBTQ groups, AVODAH, and Moishe House.
Government Relations works to identify issues of importance to the Greater New Orleans Jewish Community. We address issues at all levels of government—local, state, and federal.
In July 2014, the Greater New Orleans Jewish community came together at a vigil led by the Rabbinic Council of Greater New Orleans and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. More than 140 community members mourned together the loss of the three Israeli yeshiva students - Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. Together with area clergy, Rabbi Ethan Linden, President of the Rabbinic Council led the kaddish. Cantor Joel Colman, of Temple Sinai, spoke about his perspective as a parent, as his son Josh served near Ashkelon in the Israel Defense Force. Dr. Brenda Brasher, Chair of JCRC, eulogized the teenagers. At the conclusion of the brief event, those in attendance silently lit candles in memory of the three boys.
In August 2014, members of JCRC's Sisters Chaverot met to tour the rich, interwoven history of Black and Jewish New Orleans. Sisters Chaverot, which is comprised of Jewish and Black professional women in the community, offers a diverse menu of programming exploring everything from juvenile justice and poverty to interfaith dialogues within Greater New Orleans.
The Jewish Community Relations Council hosts speakers of a variety of topics including Israel education, advocacy, and issues of concern and interest to the Jewish people. These Hot Topics are held throughout the year and take place over lunch at a downtown location. JCRC hosted 6 Hot Topics during the past year. Guest speakers included basketball star Tal Brody, President and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs Steve Gutow, Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, and Founder and Director of Shura HaDin Nitsana Darshan-Leitner.
In July 29, 2014, more than 125 members of the Greater New Orleans Jewish community attended Music Over Sirens, a benefit concert at The Howlin' Wolf. Emceed by Morris Bart, the evening featured this night of music will feature New Orleans artists Khari Lee, Doug Belote, Matt Lemmer and Michael Pellera, as well as Israeli musicians Itamar Borochov and Jonathan Greenstein. In times of conflict, art heals, and such was the case Tuesday night at this spirited event, which included an anecdote from Bart about his first visit to Sderot, a beleagued and rocket-pocked town in southern Israel. Attendees held a moment of silence for all those who have been injured or lost their lives over the past several weeks - whether Israeli or Palestinian.
The event raised $9,571, which was matched dollar-for-dollar by Morris Bart, resulting in nearly $20,000 raised that evening. 100% of the proceeds will go to the Jewish Federations of North America's emergency Stop the Sirens campaign, as well as to help rebuild Kibbutz Kfar Gaza, which this summer was repeatedly barraged by rocket fire from neighboring Gaza.
In 2014, the Jewish Community Relations Council joined forces with 14 other Jewish, Christian, and Islamic community organizations to create interfaith education, celebration, and service programming in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 60 people gathered at First Street Peck Wesley United Methodist Church in Central City for an interfaith event that included two panel discussions and a tribute to the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The program also included Rabbi Bob Loewy of Gates of Prayer teaching the crowd Hineh Ma Tov, a member of the Muslim community reciting the Call to Prayer, and the First Street Peck Wesley United Methodist Church youth choir singing.
The following day, approximately 50 people from the Jewish community marched in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade. After the parade, members from the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian communities gathered in Central City to clear an overgrown double lot on Philip Street. The JCRC is proud of the achievements resulting from this event. We hope to continue honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with programming designed to achieve peace, friendship, and community engagement and to grow the tradition in years to come.