Category: 2019

JCRC/AJC Response to Attack in Monsey

December 29, 2019 – Late last night, following the conclusion of a Hanukkah candle-lighting in a Chasidic rabbi’s home in Monsey, in upstate New York, a masked man entered the residence and stabbed five people with a machete. Those in attendance then began throwing tables and chairs to fend off the attacker who then ran to the adjacent synagogue where congregants had barricaded themselves inside.

He fled the scene but was arrested in his car about two hours later. He now faces five counts of attempted murder and one count of burglary. Visiting the site of the attack, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling the rampage “an act of domestic terrorism.”

This attack is preceded by a week of antisemitic attacks in New York including: a Jewish man being punched in the back of the head while another filmed the attack on Tuesday, a man wearing a yarmulke being punched in the face on Wednesday and a woman being hit in the head while walking with her son on Thursday.

The verbal and physical attacks on Jews is increasingly distressing and, in the face of such hate, we must remember that we need to continue to work together, and with other communities, to fight antisemitism and stop such acts before they happen. In metropolitan Detroit, we at the JCRC/AJC continue our work expanding our Muslim Jewish Advisory Council and our Coalition for Black and Jewish Unity to foster positive relationships and partnerships against hate. Our friends in both communities have already reached out to us today and the Coalition will shortly be issuing a statement expressing our African American allies solidarity with us against such terrible acts of terror. 

Together, we must understand the importance of taking the strongest stand possible fighting hatred and showing zero tolerance towards it. 

For coverage on the attack, click on any of the following: AJC Statement Times of Israel CNN NBC News The Jerusalem Post

JCRC/AJC Statement Regarding Shooting in Jersey City

December 11, 2019 – The tragic story in Jersey City is still unfolding, but it seems clear that a Jewish kosher store was targeted, and a police officer and Jews were killed. JCRC/AJC has been in touch with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit to make sure that all security measures are taken to protect our own community and our own local kosher stores. There is no indication at all that there are threats to the Detroit Jewish community at this time, but we take this act of wanton murder, hatred and antisemitism as a warning for all Jews and Americans everywhere to be vigilant and to look out for each other.


Hundreds of Volunteers to Visit Local Nonprofits During Annual Mitzvah Day

December 5, 2019 – Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC (JCRC/AJC) will host its 23rd Annual Mitzvah Day this Christmas, Wednesday, December 25, at nonprofit organizations throughout Detroit and its surrounding communities. The daylong event is held in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

Beginning as early as 6:30 a.m., more than 600 volunteers of all ages and faiths, including Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Christian, are expected to visit nearly 40 locations to work on social service projects ranging from meal and toy delivery to visiting with older adults and taking care of animals. Volunteers have several weeks to pre-register for a specific site, such as Brilliant Detroit, Mariners Inn, Capuchin Soup Kitchen and Cass Community Social Services.

Mitzvah Day, which is the single largest day of volunteering by Detroit’s Jewish community, was founded in 1996 by JCRC in order to fill staff shortages or to allow organizations to reduce staffing on Christmas Day. The word “mitzvah” is Hebrew for “commandement,” and commonly refers to performing a good deed.

“Mitzvah Day is special to so many people because it focuses on the common value of giving of yourself in service to others,” said JCRC/AJC Executive Director Rabbi Asher Lopatin. “It’s beautiful seeing so many people from such diverse backgrounds and ages come together for a good cause. It creates such an incredible sense of light, warmth and togetherness.”

Site registration is available through December 20 at Volunteers under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. For more information, contact Sandy Lippitt at 248-642-2649 or

JCRC/AJC’s mission is to represent the metropolitan Detroit Jewish community, Israel and Jews throughout the world to the general community, and to establish collaborative relationships with other ethnic, racial, civic and religious groups. JCRC/AJC educates and advocates on important issues, seeking consensus with a commitment to Jewish values. For more information visit

JCRC/AJC Names Rabbi Asher Lopatin Executive Director

September 17, 2019 – Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC (JCRC/AJC) has named Rabbi Asher Lopatin its new executive director effective immediately. The announcement was made by Board President Alicia B. Chandler.

Rabbi Asher Lopatin is the founding director of the Detroit Center for Civil Discourse, a nonprofit designed to bring diverse people together in enriching dialogue, and the founding rabbi of Kehillat Etz Chayim, a new, Modern Orthodox synagogue in metropolitan Detroit. Prior to serving in these roles, he was president of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah Rabbinical School in New York and the senior rabbi of Anshe Sholom B’nai Israel Congregation in Chicago. While there, he and his wife, Rachel, helped found the pluralistic Chicago Jewish Day School and he co-chaired the Jewish Muslim Community Building Initiative of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs.

A Rhodes Scholar and Truman Fellow with an M. Phil in Medieval Arabic Thought from Oxford University, Rabbi Lopatin also has done doctoral work at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, in Islamic Fundamentalist attitudes towards Jews and Israel. He received ordination from Rav Ahron Soloveichik and Yeshivas Brisk in Chicago, and from Yeshiva University, as a Wexner Graduate Fellow. In 2011, Rabbi Lopatin became a permanent member of The Council on Foreign Relations.

In addition to being a nationally sought after teacher and scholar, Rabbi Lopatin has written numerous articles and chapters for more than 20 books.

“On behalf of the board and staff of JCRC/AJC, we are truly honored to welcome Rabbi Asher Lopatin as our executive director,” said Board President Alicia B. Chandler. “Rabbi Lopatin’s depth of knowledge concerning Judaism, Israel and interfaith relations is unparalleled. His commitment to bridge building and advocacy will be of great importance as we continue to establish collaborative relationships and represent the metropolitan Detroit Jewish community, Israel and Jews throughout the world to the general community.”

Statements on Recent Events

August 21, 2019 – The following are the statements which AJC made following events of the past week:

AJC Response on Israeli Decision to Bar Reps. Omar and Tlaib from Entering (August 15)

American Jewish Committee (AJC) CEO David Harris issued the following statement in response to the Israeli government’s announcement:

As long-time friends and supporters of Israel, AJC has always believed that visiting Israel is essential to gaining a better understanding of this dynamic country and the very real security challenges it faces.

When Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib announced their plans to visit, the Israeli government decided to allow them entry into the country, despite their unrelenting hostility toward the Jewish state and their active support for the BDS movement. This decision, which AJC supported, was made, above all, out of respect for the fact that both are members of the U.S. Congress, and that Israel rightfully prides itself on being an open, democratic society.

Our understanding is that the congresswomen did not request any meetings at all with Israeli officials, members of Knesset (Parliament) of any mainstream party, nor briefings on any subject from leading Israeli experts. The failure of the legislators to include any Israeli perspectives whatsoever reveals this to have been not a fact-finding mission, but rather a propaganda exercise. They went so far as to call the trip a “Delegation to Palestine,” making it clear that they were not coming to hear from various points of view, but rather to undermine the very legitimacy of the State of Israel.

AJC believes that, out of two less-than-ideal options, neither of which was risk-free, Israel did not choose wisely by reversing its original decision.

While we fully respect Israel’s sovereign right to control entry into the country, a right that everynation employs, and while we are under no illusions about the implacably hostile views of Reps. Omar and Tlaib on Israel-related issues, we nonetheless believe that the costs in the U.S. of barring the entry of two members of Congress may prove even higher than the alternative.

AJC Decries President Trump’s Disparaging Comment on Jewish Political Affiliation (August 20)

American Jewish Committee (AJC) is outraged by President Trump’s comments today criticizing American Jews who support and vote for Democratic candidates.

“I think Jewish people that vote for a Democrat – I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty,” said Trump in the Oval Office.

AJC CEO David Harris said the president’s comments are “shockingly divisive and unbecoming of the occupant of the highest elected office. American Jews – like all Americans – have a range of political views and policy priorities. His assessment of their knowledge or ‘loyalty,’ based on their party preference, is inappropriate, unwelcome, and downright dangerous.”

AJC called on President Trump to stop such divisive rhetoric and to retract his disparaging remarks.

AJC is a strictly non-partisan advocacy organization and does not endorse candidates for political office.

JCRC/AJC Statement on Shootings in El Paso and Dayton

August 5, 2019 – The Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC grieves with the communities of El Paso and Dayton following this weekend’s mass murders. That such crimes have become commonplace in our American society is a tragedy and we call on government at every level to take action without delay.

While the motivations behind the murders in Dayton are still being investigated, we are thankful that the investigators in El Paso are treating this as an act of domestic terrorism and that the prosecutors are currently considering both federal hate crime and federal gun charges against the perpetrator.

The suspect in El Paso issued a manifesto in which he claimed his attack is a “response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas.” These actions must be tied to the larger societal rise of white supremacy. The Center for Extremism reported that 78 percent of extremist-related murders in 2018 were motivated by white supremacy and, over the past 10 years, more than half of all extremist-related murders have been committed by white supremacists.

It is incumbent on each of us to continue to stand against hate and the rise of white supremacy and advance the values of a pluralistic society where people of various races, religions, ethnicities, and national origins can live together in community.

Finally, we note that firearms were not only used in both mass murders this past weekend, but were responsible for 84 percent of extremist murders last year. It is past time for our Federal and State governments to enact common sense gun safety legislation to keep guns away from extremists and others that would commit such atrocities.

Community Briefing: A Security Update

May 8 – Last week we observed Yom HaShoah, a remembrance of the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. Sadly, the admonition to ‘never forget’ is unnecessary in a world where hatred and violence directed towards the Jewish people remains commonplace.

The assaults on the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in San Diego and the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh are only the most recent reminders of the lethal impact of anti-Semitism and the legacy of hate in modern society. Recent data from the ADL reveals “near-historic levels of anti-Semitism in 2018, including a doubling of anti-Semitic assaults.”

With this in mind, we’d like to share information related to security concerns in our Detroit community, and offer some perspectives and resources that may benefit our community members.

Ongoing Community-Wide Security Efforts

The Jewish Federation and its partners have long recognized the critical importance of sustained and vigilant security. For over a decade, our Community-Wide Security team has been dedicated to ensuring the safety of our schools, congregations, agency buildings and Jewish campuses. This team works in close collaboration with their peers in local and national law enforcement to help keep our children, seniors and families safe.

Thanks to our generous donors, in the 2018/19 calendar year we allocated roughly $850,000 towards our Community-Wide Security efforts. In 2019/2020, we hope to increase that to roughly $2,000,000. This funding provides for:

  • a team of highly-experienced security officers deployed throughout the community
  • ongoing trainings, evaluations and consultation with our Jewish organizations
  • tools and technology to monitor and protect our facilities
  • close coordination with security and law enforcement entities on a local and national level
  • additional contract security personnel placed throughout the community

We also are pleased to announce a new $500,000 matching grant program for our Synagogues and Temples. This program will help enhance the physical protection of buildings and bolster on-site security personnel in our places of worship.

What You Can Do

Events like the most recent shooting in Poway, present numerous questions beyond securing our institutions. How do we explain such tragedies to our children? What public policy solutions are possible to push back against the rising anti-Semitism? Should we act any differently knowing that such hate-motivated violence is so real in our society? The list goes on. Here are some suggestions of ways to respond:

  1. If you see something, say something. Immediately report suspicious behavior to local law enforcement. Be aware of activities on social media and report concerns with guns, threats or other alarming activities.
  2. AJC is leading a campaign to urge all members of Congress to join the Bipartisan Taskforce for Combating Anti-Semitism here. The rise of anti-Semitism is a serious issue and our legislators must remain vigilant. Locally, JCRC/AJC has helped secure the support of several members.
  3. ADL has a number of educational resources (below) for a range of uses both personally and in the classroom, as well as a blog on the situation in California:

Maintaining Our Jewish Way of Life

Finally, we want to remind our community that there is no more important response to hated and anti-Semitism than the simple act of maintaining our Jewish lives and traditions.

Our charge as Jewish communal organizations is to protect our most vulnerable members and provide for the security and well-being of all. We do this so that together we can continue to worship and celebrate, observe, learn and grow – as Jewish individuals and as a community united in the face of a complex and often frightening world, and with undiminished passion for our Jewish way of life.

Click here to see full e-blast from Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.


JCRC/AJC Response to Shooting at Chabad of Poway

April 29 – JCRC/AJC is horrified by the act of terror that took place at Chabad of Poway over the weekend. We mourn for Lori Gilbert-Kaye, the casualty of the shooting, and we pray for the wounded. The horror of another synagogue being targeted on Shabbat, on the last day of Passover, and on the six-month anniversary of the Tree of Life massacre, reminds us of the hatred and violence being directed at the Jewish community, as well as other communities of faith.

We want to commend the bravery of those at Chabad who valiantly fought the attacker, saving countless lives in the process.

As always, we have been working closely with the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit in response to this tragedy. Click here to read the communication that Federation disseminated yesterday. Our message is clear: we stand in solidarity as a Jewish community, we are taking all precautions to secure our local institutions, and we will not be deterred by this surge in hate.

JCRC/AJC has worked with the media to communicate these messages and to provide clarity regarding our community’s response. Executive Director David Kurzmann conducted interviews on Saturday evening with WDIV-TV and WWJ-AM. He also was interviewed live this morning on “The Frank Beckmann Show” on WJR-AM. Please stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates on additional community responses.

May the memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye be for a blessing and may those injured experience a speedy and complete recovery.

Community Advocate Howard Brown to Receive JCRC/AJC Activist Award, May 20

April 5 – Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC (JCRC/AJC) will honor Howard Brown with its 2019 Activist Award on Monday, May 20 at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, Mich. A strolling dinner will begin at 6 p.m., followed by the award presentation and a conversation, titled “Surviving Social Media: Interfaith Engagement in the Digital Age,” with the evening’s featured speakers, Yair Rosenberg, senior writer at Tablet Magazine, and Attorney, Author and Podcast Host Rabia Chaudry, at 7 p.m. The evening will culminate with a dessert reception.

A JCRC/AJC board member since 2006, who has long worked under the radar, applying quiet diplomacy, Brown is being honored for his bridge building efforts among different interfaith groups. This has included helping to strengthen the relationship between the southeast Michigan Jewish and Muslim communities.

Professionally, the Franklin, Mich. resident has worked as a chief executive with experience in technology, fundraising, sales and marketing of online software and digital communications solutions. During his career, he has launched two online software start-ups, CircleBuilder Software LLC and, both of which serve faith and religious communities.

Active in the community, the Wexner Heritage Foundation Fellowship alumnus has served as Regional Board President for AJC Detroit, as well as on the global organization’s National Board of Governors and as a Comay Fellow. He also was on the board of Hebrew Free Loan, JCC of Metropolitan Detroit and Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

Brown, who is a public speaker and board trainer, received his bachelor’s degree from Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, where he is the immediate past college trustee and president of the school’s Worldwide Alumni Association. He was awarded their Cruickshank Award for Volunteer Leadership in September 2018.

Sponsorship and tribute levels begin at $180 and include the strolling dinner and dessert reception. To attend only the program, which is open to the community, it is a $36 contribution, per person, and includes the dessert reception. To register visit For additional information, contact Corey Young at or call 248-642-5393. 

Award-Winning Israeli Documentary Filmmaker To Discuss ISIS at Feb. 6 Event

January 24, 2019 – Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC (JCRC/AJC) and Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit’s Israel & Overseas department will welcome Itai Anghel, one of Israel’s most prominent TV journalists, to Temple Beth El (7400 Telegraph Rd., Bloomfield Hills) on Wednesday, February 6. His presentation, “ISIS – The Day After: A Look from Within,” will begin at 7 p.m. and will conclude with a dessert reception – dietary laws observed.

Through clips and first-hand experience, Anghel will address what led to the rise and fall of the ‘Islamic State’ and the Jihadists in the Middle East, which influenced Israeli and U.S. foreign policy. In doing so, he will help attendees understand the possible re-emergence of the organization’s ideas. Anghel is the only Israeli journalist who has been covering the region from the fall of Saddam Hussein to the present-day breakup of Syria.

The recipient of numerous awards, Anghel was the top recipient of the Sokolov Award, the highest award for outstanding journalism in Israel, in 2017. He is known for his unique field-work and in-depth documentaries, which feature his unique ability to deeply and fearlessly explore the most dangerous hot-spots around the globe, while intimately connecting with all parties involved. Since 2004, he has served as a senior correspondent on Israel’s Channel 2 “UVDA”, a documentary and current affairs programs, where he produces investigative documentary segments from around the world. He is currently a Knight-Wallace Fellow at the University of Michigan.

There is no cost to attend. advance registration is appreciated at For more information, contact Lauren Herrin at 248-642-2641 or

JCRC/AJC’s mission is to represent the metropolitan Detroit Jewish community, Israel and Jews throughout the world to the general community, and to establish collaborative relationships with other ethnic, racial, civic and religious groups. JCRC/AJC educates and advocates on important issues, seeking consensus with a commitment to Jewish values. For more information visit