Tag: JCRC/AJC

Seth D. Gould Named President of JCRC/AJC

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich. –  The Board of Directors of the Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC (JCRC/AJC) has named Seth D. Gould as president. The announcement was made by Executive Director Rabbi Asher Lopatin.

Gould joined the organization in 2011, when it was AJC Detroit. He continued after the nonprofit partnered with the Jewish Community Relations Council to become JCRC/AJC. Since then he has chaired the Development and Israel Programming Committees, and served as Vice President and First Vice President. 

“I am passionate about advocating on behalf of the metropolitan Detroit Jewish community, Israel and threatened minorities, as well as fostering tolerance among interfaith and intergroup communities,” said Seth Gould, who will serve a two-year term. “I am honored to have the opportunity to lead an incredible group of activists who comprise our Board of Directors.”

Gould, a member of the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Detroit Community Leadership Program cohort, is an alumnus of Legacy Heritage’s OnBoard development program for Detroit, which taught best practices for nonprofit board governance.

A partner at the Miller Law Firm, a litigation boutique in Rochester Hills, Mich., the Bloomfield Hills, Mich. resident received his bachelor’s degree in industrial and operations engineering from the University of Michigan and law degree from Wayne State University Law School. He previously served on the board of the Cranbrook Kingswood Alumni Association.

For its 2020-2021 programming year, JCRC/AJC has also welcomed four new board members: Rabbi Yonatan Dahlen of Southfield, Jeri Fishman of Southfield, Sheldon Freilich of Bloomfield Hills and Sheri Shapiro of Farmington Hills.

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 www.jcrcajc.org.

JCRC/AJC Statement Regarding the Murder of George Floyd and Recent Protests

The Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC stands in solidarity and partnership with the African American community, decrying the horrific murder of George Floyd and the racism that tragically still engulfs our nation and even permeates so many of our police forces. We pledge to work with the religious, civic and political leaders in the African American community who are working to bring a peaceful, but forceful, message of protest, truth and hope, not only in their own community, but to all Americans. There is no place for racism, discrimination, antisemitism or hatred in our country. George Floyd’s death, and the unjust deaths of so many other African Americans, tell us that racism still exists, but we know that if we work together, in peaceful, even loving protest, we will overcome and will prevail. We are all choked by racism, we all cannot breathe with racist hate, and we will never stop until it is eliminated from our society.

Aspects of Muslim and Jewish Religious Freedom to Be Discussed

January 16, 2020 – Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC and the Michigan Muslim Community Council will host its 5th Annual “A Shared Future” Lecture Series with Wayne State University Professors Howard Lupovitch and Saeed Khan. This year’s topic is “Are We Religiously Free in America?”

“A Shared Future” will consist of three presentations all beginning at 7 p.m., followed by a dessert reception:

  • Wednesday, February 12, Muslim Unity Center (1830 Square Lake Rd.) in Bloomfield Hills
    • Topic: The navigation and implementation of Halacha and Sharia in the United States
  • Wednesday, February 19, Congregation Beth Ahm (5075 West Maple Rd.) in West Bloomfield  
    • Topic: Attitudes and applications of separation of religion and state
  • Wednesday, February 26 at Wayne State University, David Adamany Undergraduate Library (5150 Anthony Wayne Dr.) in Detroit
    • Topic: Attitudes toward the First Amendment as they pertain to constructive debate and civil discourse.

Established in 2014, “A Shared Future” is an interfaith dialogue series which unites members of the Jewish and Muslim communities to learn together and build relationships. There is no charge to attend the program for which advance registration is required. It can be completed at sharedfuturereligiousfreedom.eventbrite.com.

Howard Lupovitch is Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies at Wayne State University. He received a Ph.D. in Jewish History from Columbia University and has taught at Cornell University, Colby College, the University of Western Ontario and University of Michigan, where he was also a fellow at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies. A published author, Professor Lupovitch is the 2009 winner of the Bernard L. Maas Prize for Achievement in Jewish Culture and Continuity in the Area of Humanities.

Saeed A. Khan works in the University’s Department of History and is a lecturer in the Department of Near East & Asian Studies, where he teaches Islamic and Middle East History, Islamic Civilizations and History of Islamic Political Thought. A Research Fellow at Wayne State University’s Center for the Study of Citizenship, he also is an Adjunct Professor in Islamic Studies at the University of Detroit-Mercy and at Rochester College, where he co-teaches a course on Muslim-Christian Diversity. He is a Ph.D. Candidate at Wayne State University; Thomas M. Cooley Law School, JD. 

Professor Khan has served as a consultant to the US-Arab Economic Forum and has founded the Center for the Study of Trans-Atlantic Diasporas, a think tank and policy center examining and comparing the condition of ethnic immigrant groups in North America and Europe, consulting the US and UK governments on their respective Muslim communities.

For additional information, contact Corey Young, young@jfmd.org

A Shared Future is generously sponsored by the Ravitz Foundation.

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.”

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.

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 itaidetroit.eventbrite.com. For more information, contact Lauren Herrin at 248-642-2641 or herrin@jfmd.org.

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 www.jcrcajc.org.

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.

 

We Mourn the Victims in Pittsburgh and Stand in Solidarity

October 28, 2018 – JCRC/AJC mourns the 11 Jews murdered at Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh yesterday. We pray for those wounded, including the police officers who were injured in the line of duty. The horror of a synagogue being targeted on Shabbat, on the morning of a bris, is the worst nightmares of our community come to fruition. We are shaken to our core. This hate crime not only inflicts immense pain on those who were attacked, but also terrorizes the entire Jewish community. We are strong and resilient. We will not cower in the face of such evil.

We are grateful for the many expressions of support and sympathy from the diverse communities of metropolitan Detroit. Community leaders and individuals have raised their voices publicly and privately to let us know that we do not stand alone in our pain and grief. These expressions of solidarity strengthen us in this dark time.

As the tragedy unfolded yesterday, JCRC/AJC’s first focus was to fulfill our role as the media spokesperson for the Jewish community. We worked closely with local news outlets to make sure that the voice of the local Jewish community was represented in their stories. Some of our published and recorded comments can be found at the bottom of this e-mail.

We commend the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit for their eloquent community message, which can be read here, and thank them for their partnership with JCRC/AJC as we work together to respond to this tragedy.

JCRC/AJC and our partners are working now on opportunities for the community to mourn together. We will share updates as soon as the details are available. Please follow our Facebook page for updates and when plans are confirmed, we will email you again.

We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community of Pittsburgh and communities nationwide. May those who are injured find complete healing and may the memories of those lost forever be a blessing.

Detroit Free Press

WJBK-FOX 2 News

WDIV- NBC 4

WXYZ- ABC 7

JCRC/AJC Gun Violence Prevention Policy Statement

March 21, 2018 – Approximately 38,000 people are killed by firearms in the United States each year. These deaths are caused by suicide and homicide, as well as by accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2016, the firearm death rate was approximately 12 deaths per 100,000. That statistic exceeds many other nations and represents a national tragedy and serious public health issue. The Jewish value of pikuach nefesh teaches Jews that the preservation of human life is of supreme importance and overrides almost every other commandment in the Torah. Because of this, JCRC/AJC feels compelled to call on our leaders to take the necessary steps to reduce gun violence in the United States.

Specifically, JCRC/AJC calls on our legislative leaders to:

  • Support universal background checks for all gun transactions, including person-to-person
  • Oppose concealed carry reciprocity
  • Support extreme risk protection orders
  • End the prohibition of government funding of gun violence research because gun violence is a grave public health epidemic
  • Oppose permitless carry
  • Support the abolition of open carry
  • Oppose the sale of semi-automatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition designed and configured for rapid fire and combat useMoreover, JCRC/AJC calls on our legislative and community leaders to engage in open and productive dialogue on this issue in order to craft a multi-faceted approach to eliminate gun violence in our nation.