Get to Know your Jewish Community Relations Council: A force before and since October 7

Feb 12, 2024 | Article, JCRC

Some in our Jewish Community have asked at this seemingly one-sided, anti-Israel atmosphere at home and abroad, “What about the JCRC?” The Jewish Community Relations Council is the voice of the organized Jewish community in Colorado. We are comprised of 39 member agencies and 15 at-large members representing different parts of the Jewish community, each advocating on behalf of their priorities and values in the broader civic space. JCRC works under the auspices of JEWISHcolorado. Since 10/7, JCRC has responded to tragedy and hate by planning, convening, and mobilizing communities across the state. From rallies and vigils to difficult conversations with elected leaders across government, we are the robust advocacy organization that our community relies upon. Here is what we are focused on:

Building Community Through Israel Action

We stand with Israel always. We are horrified at the events of October 7, 2023, and the brutal acts of terrorism, aggression, and destruction by Hamas. We are working tirelessly to ensure that our friends and family in Israel know that we are with them. Since October 7 we have facilitated:

  • Pray for Peace in Israel: A Community Vigil—JCRC, JEWISHcolorado, ADL and Temple Emanuel co-created this event with a variety of additional community partners to draw the community together and to hear from our legislators.
  • IAC Rally for Israel—JCRC and JEWISHcolorado supported our partners at IAC and media and promotional partners. This massive rally at the capital drew dozens of media outlets and hundreds of community members to make sure our voice was heard at the capital.
  • JNF Conference—JCRC and JEWISHcolorado worked to support our JNF partners at a series of very voluble Denver City Council meetings, through coordinating with our safety and security team, and making ourselves and our resources available to support their conference.

Strengthening our Communal Infrastructure

During each Legislative session, the JCRC focuses on core areas critical to the Jewish communal infrastructure from securing funding for nonprofit security programs and Holocaust education to budget allocations for seniors and tax credits for childcare programs. Since October 7, our work has expanded to municipal governmental bodies, school districts and other entities to combat anti-Israel resolutions. The JCRC has worked in multiple cities encouraging Colorado residents to engage in civil, civic discourse, to refrain from confrontation, and to ask of local elected officials to refrain from resolutions on topics outside of their purview. Municipal resolutions involving international affairs and the rhetoric surrounding their consideration can perpetuate tension and division right here at home. Anti-Israel resolutions are no exception.

Public Official Advocacy

  • Worked on preventing the adoption of a Ceasefire proclamation by Denver City Council, including preparing community testimony for multiple meetings over months.
  • Working with the governor’s office to secure an additional $1,000,000 for state NSGP that led to an additional seven Jewish community organizations receiving funding for the current year. JCRC led the passage of the Colorado NSGP in 2022. We also worked closely with the Colorado Homeland Security office to clarify their ranking criteria for applications to emphasize potential risk.
  • Preparing a full-fledged advocacy campaign to stop the newly introduced BDS legislation in the House. The new legislation, sponsored by Representative Epps, HB24-1169, would repeal the 2016 anti-BDS bill JCRC led to passage, thereby allowing the state Public Employees Retirement Association to invest in companies that boycott Israel. The bill will be heard in committee on February 26, 2024, and we will defeat it there with community support.
  • Meetings with Colorado’s federal delegation in meetings both here in Colorado and in DC as part of a JFNA-sponsored fly-in January 30-31 to support legislation including US aid to Israel, additional Non-Profit Security Grant Program (NSPG) dollars at the federal level, and promotion of the Antisemitism Awareness Act.
  • Extensive Advocacy with Denver Public Schools and the University of Colorado.
  • Continuing to foster and build relationships with public officials through Public Officials Missions and advocacy work.

Providing Public Education/ Press Coverage

JCRC works to provide public education opportunities through open discourse, public events, respectful dialog, and press coverage. Since October 7, the JCRC and its members have shared the following:

Ensuring Community Safety and Security

In 2019, JEWISHcolorado launched the Regional Safety & Security Initiative in partnership with the Secure Community Network (SCN), the Rose Community Foundation, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation. This initiative leverages the collective resources of our community to develop best practices for emergency communication, security awareness and training, and disaster response, with the goal of raising the baseline of safety and security throughout our community. Led by Regional Security Advisor and former FBI agent Phil Niedringhaus and former FBI agent Kevin Farrington, who work directly with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners, the Initiative has trained thousands of community members in situational awareness and other safety measures. It has provided such trainings and other services, including site assessments for 114 Jewish organizations, and helped secure more millions of dollars Homeland Security grants so that our community institutions can secure their premises for their visitors and their neighborhoods. Our advisors are responding to frequent threats, bomb hoaxes, and disruptive online activity targeted against the Jewish community.

Moving Forward

Moving forward, we are developing a proactive strategy to meet this unprecedented, complex, and nuanced moment in our community. We invite you to support this work: