Volume XIX | December 2021
CONNECTIONS
Linking you to the work of creating a more civil and caring community in WNY
Powered by the Buffalo Jewish Federation
Chair: Deborah Goldman | Director: Mara Koven-Gelman
Rabbinic Consultant: Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein
Racial Justice Coordinator: Rachel Beerman
Student Intern: Hannah Gabelnick
Our work falls into three broad areas: Social Justice, Combatting Hate and Discrimination, and Building Relationships with Ethnic, Faith, and Cultural Communities.
EDUCATE
Building Legislative Priorities and Relationships
Under the leadership of chair Deborah Goldman and co-chair elect Adam Fogel (chief of staff for NYS Senator Tim Kennedy), JCRC is strengthening its involvement with legislative priorities. This means holding education events, identifying priorities based on Jewish values and meeting with legislators at all civic levels of government. Current and present initiatives are below.
December: JCRC is hosting a panel to help our community better understand “How has COVID-19 affected WNY’s job and labor markets?” The panel discussion will be moderated by Richard Lipsitz, president emeritus WNY Area Labor Federation. Panelists include, Peter DeJesus, president of WNY Area Labor Federation, Dr. Russell Weaver, Cornell University ILR Buffalo CO-Lab and Dr. Joelle Leclaire, Buffalo State College. Register HERE.
November:
Adam Fogel in conversation with Deborah Goldman explained several upcoming 2022 NYS bills that aligned with JCRC priorities of voter engagement, justice and equity, access, and the environment.
To watch the conversation: please CLICK HERE. To receive the list of bills, please contact Mara.
February 2022:
NYS Legislative Breakfast - first ever
JCRC is proud to announce its first-ever Legislative Breakfast scheduled for February 2022. The goal is developing deeper relationships with our legislators and sharing our Buffalo Jewish community priorities. Members of the JCRC and Buffalo Jewish Federation leadership will be invited to attend.
ADVOCATE
Meeting Local and State Legislators
Throughout the pandemic, JCRC leaders have been meeting one on one with legislators. Recently, Deborah Goldman and Mara Koven-Gelman met with NYS Assembly members Jon Rivera (D-149, Buffalo, Hamburg and Lackawanna), NYS Assembly Member Karen McMahon (D-146, Amherst, Pendleton.) They also met with City of Buffalo South District Council Member Christopher Scanlon.

NYS Assembly Member Rivera is asking his constituents to fill in the following surveys if you live in these areas:

NYS Assembly Member Karen McMahon (D-146)
Buffalo City Council Member Christopher Scanlon (South District, Deborah Goldman, and Mara Koven-Gelman

UPDATED Racial Justice WEBPAGE: Check it Out
by Hannah Gabelnick

LO TA’AMOD AL DAM REY’ECHA – “Do not stand idly by.” JCRC believes in making our voices heard on issues of vital importance to the Jewish community and the communities in which Jews live. One of these issues is racial justice. We have updated our Engage in Racial Justice Resources webpage to include new books, articles, movies, podcasts, and action items.

Additionally, also included are new sections dedicated to Jews of Color and highlighting the work JCRC is doing surrounding racial justice. Be sure to check out the webpage to find an evolving list of resources to learn more and find ways to engage in the pursuit for racial justice in Western New York and beyond. If you would like to learn more about our work, or get involved, we would be honored to hear from you. Please contact Rachel Beerman, Racial Justice Coordinator here.
Racial Justice Sub-Committee Update
In August, Rachel Beerman joined JCRC as the new Racial Justice Coordinator. Rachel works with the JCRC Racial Justice Sub-Committee, chaired by Corey Auerbach, in order to implement the recommendations put forth by the Racial Justice Working Group approved by the Buffalo Jewish Federation Board of Governors last January.

The recommendations include offering racial justice workshops and engaging in the Jewish Federation of North America’s Jewish/Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Program as an inaugural cohort (along with LiNK’s Belonging Initiative.) The JEDI focuses on two main areas: increasing belonging for members of multi-ethnic and multi-racial Jewish community and opportunities for the larger Jewish community to engage with Racial Justice. In the plans:
  • Access to a very high-quality on-line curriculum tool through this partnership in the coming weeks.
  • Fostering stronger relationships locally and nationally to help create a Buffalo JEDI plan come alive.
  • Developing programing and opportunities for our larger community to engage and learn in areas related to Racial Justice
 
JCRC was a bronze sponsor to the Minority Bar Association of WNY Awards, honoring JCRC Racial Justice Subcommittee member Samantha White (below.) Samantha won a Legal Service Award. She is also a member of Temple Beth Zion. 

For further information contact Rachel.

MOBILIZE/CONNECT
“I Was a Stranger in a Strange Land.” - Supporting Afghan Evacuees
JCRC was thrilled to link Yan Liu (member of the multicultural women's group and founder of Bridges from Borders) to Buffalo United for Afghan Evacuees. Yan arranged for a donation of 10 boxes of hand sanitizer to the coalition. Thank you Sierra Johnston of Jewish Family Services of Western New York for organizing delivery and showing us the well-organized rooms of supplies. Find out how you can help here.
A Season of Voter Engagement
By Hannah Gabelnick
The Buffalo Jewish Community Relations Council and its partners, League of Women Voters Buffalo Niagara, NAACP Buffalo Chapter, National Federation for Just Communities of WNY, Inc., Network of Religious Communities, VOICE Buffalo, and VIBE, are dedicated to ensuring every American has the information and easy access to voter and election education. We embrace the opportunity to engage with our political system as a tool for pursuing justice, giving people choice, and repairing the world. 

For the November 2021 General Election, we updated our Erie County Voting 2021 informational webpage, posted informational graphics on social media, and published a 2021 Candidates’ Forum in the October Jewish Journal, highlighting both the City of Buffalo Mayoral Candidates and Erie County Sheriff Candidates (found on page 12).

We also partnered with the League of Women Voters Buffalo Niagara to create Our Future is on the Ballot, a webinar discussion of the four ballot proposals that NYS citizens voted on in the November Election. JCRC Student Intern Hannah Gabelnick was a youth panelist at the webinar, speaking on behalf of Proposal #2, the Environmental Rights Amendment. 

JCRC Chair Deborah Goldman is excited that the JCRC is involved in such important civic engagement work. “Voting is our voice,” Deborah said. “It aligns perfectly with the JCRC value of Im ein ani li, mi li? U'kh'she'ani le'atzmi, mah ani? (If I am not for myself who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what I am?) We must make our voices heard on issues of vital importance to the Jewish community and the communities in which Jews live.”
Please follow us on Instagram!
@buffalojcrc
JFNA and National
Jewish Disability Advocacy Month February 2022

Find out more here.
Governors Shine A Light on Antisemitism

As part of the #ShineALight initiative, Democratic and Republican governors from eight states - Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, Montana, New York, Ohio, and South Dakota - issued official proclamations denouncing antisemitism and vowing to do more to fight it. The Israel Action Network worked with JCRCs and Federations, alongside other national Jewish organizations, to craft the language used in many of these proclamations and will continue working with state officials to combat antisemitism. Click here to read more.
BUFFALO JEWISH COMMUNITY RELATIONS COUNCIL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Corey Auerbach
Lana Benatovich
Ann Marie Carosella
Molly Carr
Adam Fogel
Nina Lukin
Phyllis Steinberg
Theodore Steinberg