By: Dan Leshem, PhD
Director, Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)
On Thursday, March 2, 2023, the Colorado Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) will host its annual Luncheon at History Colorado, celebrating and honoring Steve Demby. Our last JCRC luncheon was held in March of 2019 and we are thrilled to be, at long last, bringing this back for the first time since COVID. It’s hard to fathom how much the world, our country, and our state has changed since then. And at the same time, many of the challenging issues that the JCRC works on remain with us, for better or worse. Immigration continues to be a major struggle and in some cases the situation has worsened. Mass shootings are still happening, and their frequency has increased. Just this last week California was struck by two separate and tragic mass shootings—one of which targeted Los Angeles’ Asian community. Synagogues have been targeted for violence, and we face growing challenges addressing antisemitism and antagonism towards and misunderstanding of Israel every day.
Addressing these challenges as a united Jewish community is exactly why the JCRC exists. We are a council of representatives from 39 diverse Jewish community organizations from across the state and 15 at-large representatives who work together to address the challenges faced by the Jewish community as well as other minority and struggling communities who are targeted because of their race, religion, ethnicity, and identities. We strive to actualize our traditional Jewish values by working collaboratively with community partners, legislators, and diverse allies to promote human life, dignity, and civic participation to help society realize its highest goals and aspirations.
Since our last JCRC Luncheon was held in 2019, those efforts have included the following broad range of public affairs accomplishments:
- Passing the Holocaust and Genocide education bill in 2019 with a wide spectrum of engaged community organizations
- Advocating for dozens of pieces of legislation on behalf of community partners, Jewish and non-Jewish
- Passing the Safety and Security grant legislation in 2022 in partnership with over 50 community organizations
- Taking over 30 statewide public officials to Israel through our Public Officials Mission
- Adding representatives from Jewish communities in Aspen, Vail, and Steamboat to the JCRC
- Rallying to support the LGBTQIA+ community in the aftermath of the Colorado Springs mass shooting with partners in the Colorado Springs Jewish community
- Galvanizing a community-wide response to Colorado’s unprecedented migrant crisis that, in a broad community partnership based at JCRC-member congregation Temple Emanuel, has so far delivered over 4,000 boxes of winter clothes to our city and statewide partners
In our world, where debates about who Jews are and what they believe are constantly being held by those outside of the Jewish community, the JCRC is the mechanism by which Jewish Colorado speaks for itself, in all its diversity, in its own name. We invite you to join us in celebrating our accomplishments over the past four years and sharing our vision for the next 12 months at our JCRC Luncheon next month on March 2, 2023.
In recognition of his tremendous work supporting and advocating for Jews and Israel over the course of several decades, we are honored to bestow our Community Leadership Award on Steven C. Demby, co-chair of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck’s Corporate & Business Department and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. Demby has also been involved in many political campaigns across the country. He is a passionate supporter of the US-Israel relationship, as an active member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for more than 20 years, serving as an early chairman of the Colorado AIPAC council, a longtime member of AIPAC’s national council, and a member of the national board of directors.
We are also thrilled to be joined this year by Ellen Germain, U.S. Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues, who will also make brief remarks at the event. Germain is a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, having served most recently as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, from 2018-2021. In Washington, Germain has also held positions in the offices of Russian Affairs, Israel-Palestinian Affairs, and Maghreb Affairs. Her other overseas tours were Tel Aviv, London, and Moscow. Her visit is especially relevant to our program this year as the JCRC has recently taken on a convening role in the community to help implement the Holocaust and Genocide Education standards we helped pass in 2020.
We encourage you to help us ensure continued and vibrant Jewish community activism in Colorado by attending the JCRC Luncheon, sponsoring the event, or supporting our awardees by underwriting tribute gifts. We are excited to celebrate our accomplishments, partnerships, and legislative allies, as we work to secure the crucial financial support that will enable us to continue expanding our impactful role in the community: partnering to further our shared enterprise of repairing our neighborhoods, cities, states, and the wider world. It takes an entire community’s efforts and resources.
Show your support for Steve Demby by making a special tribute or becoming an event sponsor.