Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)

About JCRC

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) is the umbrella body for 46 major Jewish organizations in the Chicago area and is the community relations arm of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. As a member of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), the JCRC serves as the representative voice of the organized American Jewish community in addressing the mandate of the Jewish community relations field.

  • JCRC advocates on behalf of the Jewish community and interfaces with civic and community organizations, government officials and the media.
  • JCRC develops policies that reflect the concerns of the Chicago Jewish Community. JCRC coordinates special interest programming and sponsors community wide celebrations and commemorations.
  • JCRC responds to individual inquiries and concerns while providing community resources and other informational assistance.

JCRC Board Members

JCRC Chair

  • Skip Schrayer
 

Vice Chairs

  •  Rabbi Shoshanah Conover

  •  Naomi Gitlin 

  •  Ellen Hattenbach

  •  Orly Henry
  •  Samuel Isaacson

  • Steve Lavin

  •  Gayle Miller

  • Michael Rothstein

What’s New @ JCRC?

To sign up for JCRC newsletters, please email JCRC1@juf.org. For more frequent updates, follow JCRC on Twitter at @ChicagoJCRC.


 

Chicago interfaith community mourns Paris terror victims  

 

Hundreds of community members gathered at Chicago Loop Synagogue Wednesday afternoon to honor the victims of last week’s anti-Semitic and terror attacks in Paris. JUF’s Jewish Community Relations Council convened the program, which was attended by dozens of Christian and Muslim clergy, as well as civic leaders, elected officials and foreign diplomats. Speakers included Chicago Loop Synagogue Rabbi Stanley Kroll, the Rev. Thomas Baima of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and Imam Hazim Fazlic of the Islamic Cultural Center of Greater Chicago. (Watch a video of the full service.)

JUF President Steven B. Nasatir issued a “call for solidarity” in his remarks to the attendees.“For too long, too many people chose to ignore … the signs of a threat faced not just by Jews but by the democracies of the world, with our belief in freedom,” he said. (Watch a video of Nasatir's speech)

Reflections also were offered by François Pellerin, Deputy Consul General of France in Chicago. “France — its values and its citizens — were attacked,” he said. David Benkemoun, a young professional from Paris working in Chicago, and Natalie Braun, a Chicagoan who studied at the Lycée Français de Chicago, read the names of the victims.

To send a condolence note to the victims' families that will be sent to them shortly, sign here.


 

Jewish United Fund abhors terror targeting Jews and others in France

The Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago has issued the following statement in the wake of this week’s terror attacks in Paris.

CHICAGO—At the end of a week of terror and sorrow, today we join with the people of France, with France’s Jewish community, and with all people of conscience, in crying out in pain and protest at the savage attacks that have taken the lives of at least 17 citizens. We mourn the dead, offer condolences to their loved ones, and pray for the recovery of the injured.  

The related attacks in Paris on the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket today and on the Charlie Hebdo magazine on Wednesday, underscore the extreme threat to civilized society posed by terrorists who murder in the name of Islam. The assault on employees and customers at a kosher shop in a Jewish neighborhood in Paris is but the latest example of increased, violent anti-Semitism in Europe.  

As we prepare to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27, the worldwide Jewish community calls on all peoples to be vigilant. We know all too well that a direct line can be drawn between hate speech, radical ideologies, and assaults on innocents such as we now witness with alarming regularity.  A rapid rise in attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions in France, across Europe and even in the United States, sounds the alarm for people of all backgrounds and faiths: prejudice and intolerance targeting any one group threaten us all, and shake the very foundations of our society.  

We stand in solidarity with the French Jewish community, and will continue to work diligently in our own community to defend our cherished freedoms. We call upon all echelons of society—including faith and civic leaders to break the cycle of radicalization and hate that leads to murderous terror.  

The Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago is devoted to mobilizing the resources to uplift the global and local Jewish community, supporting basic needs, creating Jewish experiences and strengthening Jewish community connections. 


 

Jewish United Fund condemns anti-Semitic graffiti in Rogers Park

 

December 29, 2014  

The Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago issued the following statement in reaction to the anti-Semitic vandalism at a Rogers Park synagogue and several homes over the weekend.  

Today, Chicago’s Jewish community stands together with people of good conscience everywhere to strongly condemn the hateful acts of bigotry which took place in the city’s far north side over the weekend. The vandals who sprayed anti-Semitic graffiti on a neighborhood synagogue and private homes not only defaced buildings, but also our city's spirit of openness and diversity.  

Hateful, anti-Semitic messages were painted on the rear of Congregation Atereth Yehoshua in Rogers Park, along with several garages nearby, according to reports.  

It is always a tragedy when any religious or ethnic group is targeted. At a time of heightened turmoil in the Middle East and mounting anti-Semitic violence around the world, we are deeply saddened by this reminder that sometimes we face hate right here in our own backyard.  

Despite this disheartening incident, we also remember in times like these how grateful we are to live in an open society where people of all faiths and ethnicities are free to celebrate their traditions and cultures. We applaud the diligence of the Chicago Police Department in investigating crimes such as this, deeply appreciate our longstanding relationship with the department, and will continue to work closely with all levels of law enforcement to ensure the security of Jewish institutions throughout the City of Chicago and suburbs.  

As Chicagoans, we are proud to live in a city that has zero tolerance for hate crimes against any minority group, values the safety and security of all its citizens, and works diligently to see that those who violate that security are swiftly brought to justice.  


 

Social Media, Social Justice: How Twitter helped address the "Hobby Lobby Chanukah Incident"

 

 

 Director of Domestic Affairs, Jewish Community Relations Council

 If you are like me, you heard all about the “Hobby Lobby Chanukah Incident” yesterday, Oct. 3. From Facebook to blogs to discussions around the dinner table, it seemed everyone was talking about how Hobby Lobby refused to sell Chanukah decorations.   The story made the rounds like wildfire: a Jewish customer could not find any Chanukah items at her local Hobby Lobby in Marlboro, N.J., despite a plethora of Christmas items. When she made an inquiry at the store, a Hobby Lobby employee responded, “We don’t cater to you people.” After hearing of this incident, a Jewish man called the store to inquire and was told, “Because Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he’s a Christian, and those are his values.”  

The Mr. Green in question is Steve Green, President and owner of more than 550 Hobby Lobby stores nationwide, all closed on Sunday, who has one of the largest collections of ancient biblical artifacts.  

OnceRabbi Donald A. Weber of Marlboro’s Temple Rodeph Torah called for a boycott of Hobby Lobby stores, the story was ablaze.  

That prompted JUF’s Jewish Community Relations Council ( @ChicagoJCRC)to issue the tweet, “Very disappointed in @HobbyLobbyStorerefusing to sell #Hanukkah or#Jewishitems. Hard to believe.” The tweet linked to a Huffington Post article and was just one of many public critiques and inquiries Hobby Lobby received.  

A mere few hours later, JCRC received two direct responses from Hobby Lobby, including an apology. Hobby Lobby said, “ @ChicagoJCRCWe have carried Jewish holiday items in the past and we're working with buyers on what we carry going forward, based on demand” and later, “ @ChicagoJCRCAs for the employee comments, they do not reflect our company values and we sincerely apologize for the offense.”  

Shortly thereafter, Steve Green issued a public, written apology.  

To receive a direct response from a large retailer is a rarity, even with the incredible access we now have due to social media. To receive an apology and an acknowledgement of employee misconduct might just be a Twitter Chanukah miracle.  

To follow this story and receive frequent updates, follow JCRC on Twitter @ChicagoJCRC.  

Stephanie Sklar is Director of Domestic Affairs for the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.