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Social Action and Inter-Group Relations

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“From the Four Corners of the Earth: 
Exploring Successful Models of Welcoming and Acculturating Immigrant Communities”

On Thursday, April 7, 2011, the JCRC of Greater Washington, along with our cosponsors the Embassy of Israel, the Washington Regional Office of the American Jewish Committee, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and Project Interchange held the program:  “From the Four Corners of the Earth:  Exploring Successful Models of Welcoming and Acculturating Immigrant Communities”.  At this program representatives of immigrant communities in the Greater Washington area, along with representatives of organizations working with immigrant communities came to ask questions and to hear experts explore Israel’s longstanding tradition of welcoming and acculturating immigrants from around the world, and to discuss the challenges and opportunities of absorbing new populations and the complex issues surrounding today’s new immigrants and refugees. 

This program was held at the Embassy of Israel and was introduced by Eliav Benjamin, Counselor for Political Affiars, who spoke about his own experiences as an immigrant to Israel.  Dr. Fred A. Lazin, The Lynn & Lloyd Hurst Family Professor Emeritus of Local Government, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, and the Seymour & Lillian Abensohn Visiting Professor of Israel Studies American University, spoke about the history of immigration to Israel, and Mark Hetfield, Senior Vice President for Policy and Programs at The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society spoke about the current challenges facing Israel and its immigrant communities.

The evening was a multisensory experience.  We watched the trailer from the Academy Award winning film, for Best Documentary Short Subject, Strangers No More, viewed the beautiful photo exhibit: From Tesfa to Tikva:  A Lens on Ethiopian Israelis taken by photojournalist Irene Fertik, and we enjoyed a wonderful meal with dishes representing the cuisine of Israel’s many diverse communities. 

A special thanks to the Embassy of Israel for hosting the event, The Foreign Ministry of Israel for the use of the trailer for Strangers No More, The Artful Party for catering, and photojournalist Irene Fertik who donated the use of her pictures for the evening. 

 JCRC and Impact Silver Spring Present "Neighbor Circles"

JCRC and Impact Silver Spring completed our second of two “Neighbor Circles".  Groups of Jewish, African and Latina women took part in a program of cross-cultural learning, exchange and action to bridge the all-too-common gap between neighbors of different races, classes and cultures.

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Greater Washington, the public affairs and community relations arm of the Jewish community, teamed up with local nonprofit, IMPACT Silver Spring, to design this new effort. Neighbor Circles are based on the ongoing work of IMPACT Silver Spring to build social networks and civic engagement for a thriving, multicultural community.

The African and Latina participants in the Neighbor Circles hailed from Trinidad Tobago, El Salvador, Ethiopia, and East Africa. The participating Jewish women represented different streams of Jewish life. Within the Circle, they will be explored culture, power, class and womanhood; and discussed local diversity and inequity, in an attempt to better understand each other, their respective challenges and opportunities for collaboration.

Through their experience in the Neighbor Circle, participants will also supported IMPACT’s door-knocking initiative in Long Branch called the Neighbors Campaign, a response to the economic crisis. The women were trained and then teamed up in cross-cultural pairs to knock on their neighbors’ doors, listen to their stories, and connect them to social services at a new neighborhood service center. Additional information about the Neighbors Campaign can be found at

 “The JCRC was pleased to play a role in connecting Jewish and immigrant women in Silver Spring to increase cultural sensitivity, develop personal relationships and help empower women in both communities,” Ron Halber JCRC Executive Director said.

The Neighbor Circles are supported by a seed grant from the Tikkun Olam Women’s Foundation, an independent grant making organization associated with The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and the United Jewish Endowment Fund.

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Community Inter-Group and Social Justice Events Calendar

Washington Hebrew Congregation - Freedom Seder                                                          

Wednesday, April 11, 2012   6:30pm

This evening of unity is an interfaith celebration of freedom that includes prayer, songs, and readings emphasizing the universal struggle for human dignity. A special Passover seder dinner will be served.  Congregants, their family and friends, and DC’s interfaith neighbors are invited.  Cost of event    $20 for WHC members and guests; $200 to sponsor a table for interfaith guests. Washington Hebrew Congregation is located at 3935 Macomb Street, N.W.  To RSVP or for more information please contact Layne Weiss, 202-895-6307 or  For a form to RSVP click here. 

Understanding the Swastika: The Use and Abuse of Religious Symbols

 Sunday April 29, 2012

The swastika, like other religious symbols, has had many meanings and uses for over thousands of years. A diverse faith panel will speak about symbols and their meanings from their perspectives. There will be small group discussions about the uses of the symbols and the meanings that each of us associate with them today.  It is an opportunity to participate in a dialogue that will promote more understanding of the swastika and other religious symbols. Washington Hebrew Congregation, 3935 Macomb St., NW, 3-6pm with a reception following for all participants.  The cost is $10.00 per student or senior and $15 per adult/non-student.  TO REGISTER, GO TO WWW.IFCMW.ORG, CLICK ON THE “DONATE NOW” BUTTON AND NOTE IT’S FOR “SPD”.  Please RSVP by Sunday April 22, 2012

Interfaith Vigil at the Embassy of Sudan

The 3rd Sunday of each month, 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. 

Darfur Interfaith Network represents a growing number of synagogues, churches, student groups and other people of conscience who have joined the I ACT campaign to stop the killing, rape, torture, and displacement of civilians in the Darfur region of Sudan. The Embassy of Sudan is at 2210 Massachusetts Avenue, NW (3 blocks from DuPont Circle Metro). The Darfur Interfaith Network holds their monthly vigil, rain or shine, on the third Sunday of every month.  If you are interested in volunteering please email Laura Cutler

9/11 Unity Walk

Sunday, September 9, 2012     1:30-5:30 p.m.

The 9/11 Unity Walk commemorates the years since the acts of terror on September  11, 2001 by building bridges of respect and understanding.  This is a Multireligion Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative and a partner of the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington.  The Walk begins at Washington Hebrew Congregation, 3935 Macomb Street, NW.  This event is free. 



Social Justice Interfaith Newsletters

Passover 2011
Immigration:  What's happening in the JCRC and the Jewish community

February 2011
Hunger and list of Food Donation Sites, compiled by Jconnect 

January 2011 
MLK Events and Volunteer Opportunities, Environmental Programs in the Jewish Community

 Prior Years Interfaith Reports