Tag: AJC

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 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.

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 Responds to Surge of Violence in Israel

November 13, 2018 – The Jewish community of metropolitan Detroit stands in solidarity with Israel as it faces the worst surge of violence since the 2014 Hamas-Israel war.  More than 400 rockets have been fired by Hamas at civilian targets in southern Israel over the past 24 hours.

While Israel’s Iron Dome Missile Defense System has intercepted one-quarter of these rockets, many buildings and other structures have been hit. Sadly, this barrage of rockets has resulted in many injuries.  A 48-year-old Palestinian man lost his life when a rocket from Gaza struck an apartment building in Ashkelon, Israel.

As the rocket fire continues, life for those in the cities affected has come to a halt – schools have been closed, all public events have been canceled and residents have been told to stay in or close to bomb shelters. To help protect these people, the IDF is moving additional tanks and infantry units to the Gaza border region and striking terrorist locations throughout Gaza.

Here in metropolitan Detroit, we are monitoring the situation closely and with great concern, but from afar. However, tomorrow we will welcome Gil Hoffman, the political correspondent and analyst for The Jerusalem Post, to two events where he will provide insight into Israeli politics and the relationship between Israeli and American Jews. Now, he undoubtedly will address this escalation in violence and explain how Israel is responding.

We remain hopeful that a ceasefire will follow soon and we keep the victims, families and individuals in southern Israel in our thoughts.