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JCRC and Chicago Jewish Community Express Condolences to Kenyan Christians After Terrorist Attack
The news from Kenya that an Islamic terrorist organization, al-Shabab, separated Christians from Muslims and then murdered them during Holy Week on Maundy Thursday, on the eve of Good Friday, reaches the Jewish community and the Jewish people on the eve of Passover. In this season when we celebrate the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery, we extend our profound condolences to the families of the victims and to our Christian friends, neighbors and colleagues in the Metropolitan Chicago area. The selection of those to be murdered from amongst a larger population reminds us of our own recent catastrophe and magnifies both our horror and our compassion. May this season of hope for Christians and of freedom from tyranny for Jews bring ever-greater resolve for all people of good will to rid this world of the evil of terrorism.
JCRC, Chicago Jewish Community receives message from Danish Jews
In response to the terrorist attacks last month in Copenhagen, which left two people dead including Dan Uzan, a Jewish man who was part of a security patrol guarding a synagogue, Chicago’s JCRC reached out to the Danish Jewish community in a show of solidarity. JUF pledged its support in denouncing the accelerating rise in global anti-Semitic activity and its violent manifestations in Europe, and called for all world leaders to take immediate action to avert terrorist attacks on Jewish individuals, communities and institutions.
Earlier this week, the Chicago Jewish community received a response from Dan Rosenberg Asmussen and Rabbi Jair Melchior, expressing their community’s deep gratitude and appreciation. Although shaken by the recent tragedy, the community is committed to building “a vibrant Jewish life in Denmark” and ensuring that Dan’s memory continues to serve as a reminder of “justice, human kindness and hope for the entire country.”
The Jewish Federation of Chicago, JCRC and
Chicago Board of Rabbis offer their support and solidarity to Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos and members of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago in response to the vandalism at the Greek Orthodox seminary in Jerusalem.
View PDF of the letter of support.
The following letter from JUF's Jewish Community Relations Council was sent to Chief Rabbi Yair Melchior and the Jewish Council in Copenhagen:JCRC expresses condolences, pledges support to Danish Jews
Dear Rabbi Melchior and Leaders of the Jewish Council:
On behalf the 300,000-strong Jewish community of Metropolitan Chicago and the 46 groups that comprise our own council, we join Jews - and decent people - everywhere in sending our deepest condolences to you, your community and fellow Danes for the terrorist murders of yesterday, February 14.
We condemn the attacks on the café and the Krystalgade synagogue. Seeking to undermine our shared values of religious liberty and freedom of expression, these terrorists take aim at, and are killing innocents, most often Jews and those sworn to defend us.
The rise in violent anti-Semitic activity in Europe and elsewhere in the world must not be tolerated. We cannot accept that Jews throughout Europe are once again living in fear, and we stand with you in calling on global leaders to take immediate action to avert terrorist attacks on Jewish individuals, communities and institutions. We must ensure that European leaders understand the urgency of the danger and remain vigilant in confronting and addressing the rising tide of anti-Semitic activity on their soil.
And we, as fellow Jews and as citizens of our own great country, have our roles to play too, including standing in solidarity with you and urging our government to play its essential global role.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of all the victims and to those police officers wounded in the attacks.
Skip Schrayer, Chair, and Emily Sweet, Executive Director
The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago
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
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
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
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"
By STEPHANIE SKLAR
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.