Volume XIV | September 2020
Linking you to the work of creating a more civil and caring community in WNY
Powered by the Buffalo Jewish Federation
Co-Chairs: Deborah Goldman & Nina Lukin | Director: Mara Koven-Gelman
Student Intern: Hannah Gabelnick
Buffalo JCRC's work falls into three broad areas: Social Justice, Combatting Hate and Discrimination, and Building Relationships with Ethnic, Faith, and Cultural Communities. During the COVID-19 pandemic our priority is to ensure all communities maintain their safety and remain healthy.
Vote. Your Voice Matters.

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 that 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. In that spirit, we encourage you to get out and vote.

Find out more:
JCRC 2020 Survey Results

In August, a survey was sent out to both the Jewish and Western New York Community. The results include data from over 211 respondents, and shed light on their familiarity of past programs, initiatives and statements, evaluation of their effectiveness, and give insights into future priorities and potential partners. Student intern Hannah Slabodkin worked with JCRC leadership to create, implement and analyze the survey. Highlights include:

  • Majority were familiar with JCRC programs, initiatives and statements.
  • Social justice issues of most concern were racial justice, poverty and health disparities.
  • Combating antisemitism was a strong priority.
  • Action steps - continue building relationships and reach out to more organizations.
  • Respondents prefer engaging in individual advocacy and education activities: join webinars and read as a way to be involved and informed.
Racial Justice Resources are in the works
We are creating a web page that will provide suggestions of what to read, watch, listen to, and do to educate yourself on racial justice as a member of the Jewish Community. They will include: anti-racist books, podcasts, movies, TV shows, articles, webinars, and activities. By taking the time to educate ourselves, examine our actions, and start conversations with others, we can begin to understand the roots of discrimination and racism in America.

From COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on people of color, to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others by police officers, systemic racism continues to dehumanize marginalized groups of people in America. The Buffalo Jewish Community stands in solidarity with the Black community, and 69% have responded to the Jewish Community Relations Council Survey, saying that the pursuit of Racial Justice is very important to them. Through our values of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and Lo Ta’amod Al Dam Rey’echa (do not stand idly by), we urge you to utilize these resources to make direct impacts towards justice and equity in our society.

Stay tuned for an announcement when our page is launched!

Antisemitism and Violent Hatred on Facebook "Needs To Stop"
Over 90 local, national, and international Jewish organizations signed a letter to Mark Zukerberg, CEO of Facebook in an effort to combat antisemitism, racism, violent hatred, and misinformation online.
The letter urges Facebook to:
  • Remove public and private groups focused on white nationalism and extremism, antisemitism, Holocaust denial, and pernicious disinformation.
  • Undertake serious systemic change to better identify antisemitism, Holocaust denial, and other dangerous content so you can truly make a dent in the problem.
  • Stop recommending hate to users. Heed your own internal findings that your algorithms, especially the recommendation features, are directly responsible for the growth of extremist groups online.
  • Stop spreading disinformation that threatens the health of democracy and people.
  • Remove misinformation and intimidation that threatens our voice as voters, our health and our rights.
  • Every advertiser, every leader must be held to the same standard.

Read the letter: here
Engaging in Racial Justice: A New Working Group

By Deborah Goldman, chair

The aftermath of the 2020 horrific killings of several African Americans under police custody and worldwide civil protest creates both a challenge and opportunity for the Jewish community. How does the Jewish community understand and respond to this moment? We are living in an unprecedented time of people from all backgrounds marching in peaceful protests against systemic.

Two Voter Engagement Postcard Opportunities
Get Out The Vote Postcards Target Buffalo’s Lovejoy Voters

In September, the League of Women Voters will mail 3,000 postcards aimed at boosting participation in Buffalo’s Lovejoy District, a historically low-turnout area. JCRC is helping in this important initiative. On the back, volunteers will write and sign a sentence or two encouraging recipients to vote. They have 23 postcard writers, but can always use more.

To find out more information contact:  Barbara Gunderson

Reclaim Our Vote

Sign up to write postcards for Reclaim Our Vote, an organization that writes and sends colorful postcards to voters who have been removed from voter rolls and encourages them to register to vote. Each week, postcards are sent to Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, and Texas in an effort to combat voter suppression. 25% of people who receive a postcard re-register to vote, allowing purged voters to reclaim their vote and support a healthy democracy.

Congregation Shir Shalom, Temple Beth Zion, Temple Beth Abraham, and Amherst Community Church have all started postcard writing groups. Contact Deborah Cohen at deb@deblifecoach.com or Renee Stith at postcard.renee@gmail.com to sign up or read this article for more information.
JFS Volunteer Voter and Census Opportunity

If you are interested in volunteering to assist community members with voter registration or 2020 Census Completion, or if you need help learning how to register to vote or how to vote by mail and would like to be linked with a volunteer, please contact Sierra Johnston at sjohnston@jfsbuffalo.org or 716-548-0431.
JCPA and National
Solidarity Letter with ADL

The Anti-Defamation League with over 100 years of combating hate and antisemitism is under attack. "There has been an insidious effort to put a wedge between ADL and the progressive community. Recently, a letter entitled DropADL is circulating with a message that ADL is not an ally. (Note this letter was circulated two years ago without much traction.) This is as an affront not just to ADL, which has a 100 plus years legacy working on civil and human rights, but to the entire organized Jewish community and an effort to disenfranchise Jewish organizations from the progressive table." – Jewish Council of Public Affairs.

We believe it is important to be at the table with organizations even though we may not agree on every issue. It is through dialogue and shared society that we can build relationships and fight hate and antisemitism. Read letter here
Jody Biehl
Ann Marie Carosella
Adam Fogel
Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein
Phyllis Steinberg
Dr. Theodore Steinberg