Volume XX | March 2022
Linking you to creating a more civil and caring community in WNY
Powered by the Buffalo Jewish Federation
Co-Chairs: Deborah Goldman and Adam Fogel
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.
JCRC Jewish Calendar Project
In early February, JCRC Student Intern Hannah Gabelnick reached out to the school districts of Williamsville, Amherst, Sweet Home, Clarence, Buffalo Public, Hamburg, and Orchard Park to send them a six-year Jewish calendar to help educators and school administrators plan their academic year. Hannah emailed the calendar to 50 administrators and called the assistant superintendents of each school district to inform them of the calendar. JCRC also contacted BOCES-1 who sets the academic calendar for the region.
By providing this calendar, JCRC hopes to reduce disruption for students and teachers by ensuring the major Jewish holy days were taken into account in the scheduling of exams, field trips, and major assignments, as well as non-academic activities, such as back-to-school nights, concerts, photo days, school dances, and athletic competitions.
Additionally, the updated contact list was shared with the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo and LiNK Jewish Buffalo who interact with local schools. This list will also be helpful to other faith communities who want to educate public schools about their religious holiday schedules.
Several administrators responded and were grateful to have the calendars early to help plan the school year 2022-23. Some key Jewish Holidays in 2022 are:
Passover: the first Seder meal is the evening of Friday, April 15; second Seder meal is the evening of Saturday, April 16th.

Rosh Hashanah: evening of Sunday, September 25 - Tuesday, September 27

Yom Kippur: evening of Tuesday, October 4th - Wednesday, October 5th.
Honoring Black History Month
By Rachel Beerman
Racial Justice Coordinator
As a way to learn and engage in our local and national history during February’s Black History Month, we co-sponsored two virtual museum trips. Our first event brought 40 visitors to our region’s Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. Participants learned about the trials and triumphs of enslaved Americans who were able to turn the Niagara Falls tourist town into a gateway to Canada and its freedom from slavery. It was powerful for both Buffalo and Northern New Jersey visitors to learn more about important history that happened right here in Western New York.

We ended Black History Month with another stellar virtual tour, this time at the International Sit-In Museum and Center in Greensboro, North Carolina. Through this tour, we received a moving overview of the Civil Rights Movement and the specific role of the sit-in movement that began in Greensboro in 1960. Both virtual events highlighted the importance that we as individuals can play in the pursuit of freedom for all and the importance of learning about our shared American history.
To learn more about these Museums visit: Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center and International Civil Rights Center and Museum, Greensboro, N.C.
2022 NYS Legislative Forum by Hannah Gabelnick
We held our first JCRC Legislative Forum on February 18th to introduce our work, highlight issues of concern to the Jewish community, and forge an ongoing dialogue with WNY State Delegation. The 50 person virtual forum focused on three priority areas: combatting antisemitism and hate, social justice and equity, and welcoming Afghan evacuees. It also emphasized the strong relationships JCRC builds with its community partners.
The forum featured Susan DeMari, Jewish Buffalo Security Coordinator, who discussed the rise of antisemitism and hate. Susan thanked the NYS legislature for their additional $25 million in state security funds and for administering the Federal Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Her focus is on developing community preparedness and training protocols and building strong relationships with all levels of law enforcement.
Adam Fogel, JCRC Co-Chair discussed social justice and equity, encouraging NYS Legislators to pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of New York and a bill that would require counting affidavit ballots of eligible voters if a voter appears at a polling place in the correct county but incorrect election district. He also encouraged WNY Legislators to pass bills that would establish the office of racial equity and social justice and establish a model racial equity, social justice, and implicit bias training program.
Molly Carr, CEO of Jewish Family Services of WNY, focused on supporting Afghan evacuees. She advocated for $6 million in funding for New York State Enhanced Services for Refugee Program (NYSERP) to support integration and self-sufficiency work of refugees and Afghan evacuees. Read full article here. If you would like to see the recording, please contact Mara.
Meeting Local Legislators
Deborah Goldman
JCRC co-chair
City of Buffalo Councilmember Bryan Bollman (Lovejoy District)
Adam Fogel
JCRC co-chair
JCRC Co-chairs Deborah Goldman and Adam Fogel met last week with City of Buffalo Councilmember Bryan Bollman in their continued effort to build relationships with federal, regional and local legislators. Councilmember Bollman was very appreciative of learning about JCRC values and priorities. JCRC heard his priorities addressing food insecurity, building a strong local business core, helping residents with housing issues and supporting a growing immigrant community.
“I Was a Stranger in a Strange Land”
TBT and JCRC Send Warmth to Phoenix
by Mara Koven-Gelman, JCRC Director
Before: Mountain of Warmth (coats, sweaters, hats and mittens) sent to Phoenix Welcome Center
David Schiller and Rabbi Rosenbaum help operate the Coat Drive
After: boxes arrive Tuesday March 1st in Phoenix. Volunteers transport them to Welcome Center
It started with a simple email from JCRC Phoenix executive director Paul Rockower, “Help on the Asylum front--need winter clothing ASAP.” Paul sent this urgent request to several cold climate JCRCs. He explained The International Rescue Committee (IRC) Phoenix Welcome Center helps up to 250 people seeking asylum a day. The asylees, mostly fleeing gang violence and political strife from South and Central America and Cuba, are processed and immediately sent to sponsors in cold climates. Phoenix aid organizations quickly ran out of warm clothing and coats.

JCRC Buffalo reached out to Temple Beth Tzedek (TBT) member and co-chair of the Kesher Inclusion Committee Sharla Bleichfeld who in turn organized a coat drive. Together with Rabbi Adam Rosenbaum, Janet Gunner, Marian Lustig, Bruce Bleichfeld, Kim Jones and Pat Farrell, the synagogue gathered 50 coats, mittens, and hats for people of all ages. Ariel Kostiner, of HQ Shipping, packed and shipped the coats (for a generous discounted rate.) Additional donated funds bought 11 new coats purchased from Lands’ End. A large quantity of warm clothing was also given to JFS for local Afghan assylees who are settling in the Buffalo community.

“Most importantly, we are grateful for this opportunity to coordinate with the IRC Welcome Center along with volunteers in the Jewish community in Phoenix as well as Jewish Family Services of Buffalo to put our Jewish values into action,” said Sharla.

The Asylee Journey from the South
Anna Keating, an Interfaith Asylum Refugee Volunteer working with The Welcome Center acted as the contact for TBT and JCRC, explained, “in early November we started thinking about the need for warm clothing for those traveling to colder climates. We found quickly that getting winter coats in Phoenix was difficult. Read the full story here.

  “The people who travel to their sponsors will face many challenges, but thanks to your generosity, being cold will not be one of them."
 - Anna Keating, Interfaith Asylum Refugee Volunteer
Rabbinic Consultant, Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein
For the past year, I have had the honor and pleasure of serving as the rabbinic consultant to the JCRC. My job is to act as a support to the organization, helping further its mission in the community, and provide the connections that help strengthen the bonds we have between our neighbors.
I am involved with the 2023 JCRC Civic Leadership Trip to Israel, drafting op-eds to combat antisemitism and statements in response to crises, supporting the Racial Justice sub-committee, and representing JCRC at faith-based events.
I have been lucky enough to live in Buffalo for almost a decade and a half, serving as the rabbi of Congregation Shir Shalom. For the majority of that time, there was no such thing as a Jewish Communal Relations Council. When an antisemitic incident occurred, or a neighboring community was experiencing a crisis, or, simply, it was an election period, there was no one to call to help organize any action or education program.
I clearly remember when a Holocaust denier came to speak at the University at Buffalo. The Buffalo Jewish Federation convened a community group in the boardroom of the Jewish Community Center on Delaware Avenue, frantically trying to come up with a response. There was no precedent or guidelines. We were completely on our own. Now, thanks to the efforts of founding chairs Nina Lukin and Dr. Ted Steinberg and current co-chairs Deborah Goldman and Adam Fogel, Buffalo Jewish Federation CEO Rob Goldberg, and JCRC Director Mara Koven-Gelman and many others, that is no longer the case.
I am so proud of all the good we have already been able to accomplish together and cannot wait to see what we will be able to create in the future.
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Jewish Council For Public Affairs
February 24, 2022
JCPA stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, especially with members of the Ukrainian Jewish community given the history of antisemitism during periods of conflict in the region. We unequivocally condemn Russia’s brazen attack on this independent democratic country and support efforts by the administration, the EU, NATO, and the rest of the international community to impose on Russia severe diplomatic and economic consequences for its blatant violation of international law. JCPA will work with our partners in and out of the Jewish community to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need.
In Memoriam: Leslie Shuman Kramer z'l
We mourn the loss of our friend and Jewish community leader Leslie Shuman Kramer z"l. Not only did Leslie help secure funds to create JCRC in 2018, she passionately participated in our important relationship building and social justice activities. We are indebted to her vision, compassion and leadership. May her memory always be for a blessing. Read her full obituary here.
Leslie as an Election protection Volunteer Nov 3, 2020.
Leslie with friends at the West Side Bazaar, 2019
Leslie joins friends and family at Nadeen Yousef's Naturalization Ceremony in 2019. Nadeen is a member of JCRC's multicultural women's group.
Corey Auerbach
Lana Benatovich
Molly Carr
Susan Grelick
Nina Lukin
Phyllis Steinberg
Ted Steinberg