As of today, I begin my tenure as Interim Executive Vice President and CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY). I am truly humbled by the support of the organization’s dedicated board of directors, led by our President Ben Golub and Chair Cheryl Fishbein, for placing their trust in me to lead JCRC-NY during this moment of transition until a permanent CEO is identified.
For the last 13 years, the Jewish community relations field has been my professional home at both the local and national levels. During this time, I have worked alongside some of the foremost practitioners in the field on many critical issues facing the Jewish community. I know from first-hand experience how these leaders work tirelessly to build bridges between diverse communities, train new generations of civil servants and social service providers, and advocate for the interests and security of the New York Jewish community. Indeed, due to the generous support of UJA-Federation of New York, the work of JCRC-NY and our partners has made our communities stronger and safer and our city more inclusive and resilient.
Every day, new and greater challenges threaten our communities. Anti-Jewish incidents of hate, along with other hatreds directed at our neighbors, has risen to levels I have not witnessed in my lifetime. Communities in close proximity feel compelled to compete for limited resources in a zero-sum manner. Discussions around many sensitive issues, including politics, religion, and Israel, are often dominated by polarized factions, and room for compromise and mutual understanding is often eschewed.
While these challenges are great and complex, they are also energizing. In this city that never sleeps, JCRC-NY remains on the cutting edge of strategies and initiatives that have a proven track record of uniting communities in common purpose and creating an interconnected New York for all. Our incredibly talented staff thrive upon being creative conveners, solving problems, and managing crises. In the coming months, JCRC-NY will continue to show up for our community and our partners, and we will stand up for our rights with conviction, strength, and unity.
Twenty-five years ago, I celebrated my bar mitzvah and read this week’s Torah portion – Parashat Re’eh (Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17). Here, the Jewish people are provided with guidelines for civic engagement and community cohesiveness. One must celebrate holidays to remember our history, observe dietary laws, treat all others with dignity and respect, and make special effort to welcome the stranger in our midst. It is in this tradition that JCRC-NY seeks to strengthen our own community from within and the greater communities in which we live. All New Yorkers are stronger when we are united.
To our friends in the Jewish community, the many diverse religious and community-based organizations in New York, and our public officials, the entire team at JCRC-NY will continue to be your partners in good faith offering our expertise and services to advance our society together. To this end, I invite you to be in touch with me directly at email@example.com.
I want to take this opportunity to thank Gideon Taylor for his years of service to JCRC-NY, both as a member of the board and as CEO. On behalf of JCRC-NY, I wish him much success in his new role as President of the World Jewish Restitution Organization and in his service to the Holocaust survivor community and in advancing Holocaust education in New York and internationally.