Community Conversations Series

Please join the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) for Community Conversations, a series of programs on compelling, current topics impacting the community.

Community Conversations are possible thanks to our generous sponsors:
The Shirley and Leonard Goldstein Foundation
Anything Grants from the Staenberg Family Foundation
The Special Donor Advised Fund of the Jewish Federation of Omaha Foundation

Before the 2024 Jewish Day Action on February 29, the JCRC is presenting Community Conversations and workshops focusing on the how-to’s of citizen advocacy, including why we should be engaged in advocacy at all. Sessions will take place in-person and will be recorded.

In our first Community Conversation of the year, JCRC presented Advocacy Bootcamp 101 to explain and answer any questions about petitions and ballot initiatives, including how to become a petitioner. The purpose was to make our citizen lobbyists feel more comfortable with the ballot initiative process and have a deeper appreciation for how important direct democracy and initiatives are in enacting meaningful policy change, serving as a check on our one-house legislature in our Unicameral system.

There are currently eight petitions in circulation for the 2024 election in Nebraska. They are:

  • Nebraska Cannabis Constitutional Amendment
  • Consumption or Excise Taxes Constitutional Amendment
  • Grocery Items Exemption Constitutional Amendment
  • Nebraska Human Life Protection Initiative
  • Nebraska Medical Cannabis Patient Protection Initiative
  • Nebraska Medical Cannabis Regulation Initiative
  • Paid Sick Leave Initiative
  • Protect the Right to Abortion Constitutional Amendment

Petitioners for all of the above initiatives were invited to attend the evening event, address questions, and collect signatures.

The panel features former Nebraska State Senator from Lincon, Adam Morfeld, founder and executive director of Civic Nebraska whose mission is to connect and empower Nebraskans to strengthen democracy; cultivate active members of society in our schools, neighborhoods, and communities; and protect voting rights.

Omaid Zabih, Strategy Senior Director at Nebraska Appleseed spoke about the current petitions, ballot initiatives, and the other issues directly impacting Nebraskans in urban and rural communities across the state. Nebraska Appleseed strives to solve deeply rooted, interrelated systemic issues in a holistic approach: to fight against poverty, discrimination, and reckless indifference in the areas of child welfare, economic justice, access to healthcare, and immigrant communities.

Jo Giles, executive director of The Women’s Fund of Omaha, was there to discuss the impact of citizens’ voices in the policymaking process and safeguarding our democracy. The Women’s Fund of Omaha works on the most critical challenges facing anyone who experiences gender-based oppression by identifying issues through research, funding solutions by investing grant money in local nonprofits, and leading dynamic change by advocating for effective policy solutions.

The League of Women Voters was also present to register members of the community who have not registered.

Community Conversation – Advocacy Bootcamp 101 took place on Tuesday, January 30, at 7:00 P.M. in the Goldstein Community Room.


View the recording of Advocacy Bootcamp 101 here.

Kristofer Goldsmith of Task Force Butler

November 15, 2023


Kristofer Goldsmith is the founder and CEO of Task Force Butler Institute, a nonprofit organization that engages veterans in the hobby of maintaining a democracy, and Sparverius LLC, a veteran-owned firm that detects and disrupts disinformation and extremism threats against America. Goldsmith is a Jewish veteran advocate and an open-source intelligence expert with over 10 years of experience in policy, research, and leadership. View conversation here.

Why is this War Different from All Other Wars?

An in-person and virtual Community Conversation with Dr. Gina Ligon, Director of Counterterrorism Research Initiatives at NCITE, Dan Feferman and Dr. Ahmed Khuzaie of the Sharaka Project. Erin Grace will moderate a conversation about Israel’s war with HAMAS, how it is different from previous conflicts with FTO foes of Israel, how the relationships with the countries in the Abraham Accords may be impacted, and what are desired outcomes for Israel and the world. View conversation here.

Photo by Alexi J. Rosenfeld / Getty Images

Welcoming the Stranger: Refugee Resettlement in Nebraska

The JCRC is honored and thrilled to launch Welcoming the Stranger. This initiative will focus on assisting two or more of the 40 refugee families arriving in Omaha from Ukraine, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Syria between now and October 1. The JCRC is coordinating a Jewish community volunteer effort to help sponsor families, provide furniture and household items and set up apartments. Learn more

A Conversation with Consul General of Israel to the Midwest


JCRC of Omaha presents a conversation about What We Should Know About Israel’s Judicial Reform and Other Policy Priorities – the complexities and concerns about the state of democracy and growing demonstrations in Israel. View conversation here.

Between Friends – Rekindling Black-Jewish Allyship


An intimate conversation with Terri Sanders, publisher of the Black-owned Omaha Star newspaper, and Annette van de Kamp-Wright, editor of the Omaha Jewish Press, moderated by Marty Shukert.


View the Conversation here

Antisemitism in Nebraska

A Community Conversation to address the rise of antisemitism, what we should be aware of, and what is being done to keep our community – and others – safe.

Our panel of experts features Special Agent in Charge of the Nebraska-Iowa FBI Field Office, Eugene Kowel; Felix Ungerman, representing Congressman Don Bacon’s office; the City of Omaha’s Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, Keith Station; Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League Midwest, David Goldenberg; JFO’s Safety & Security Manager, James Donahue; and Dr. Ari Kohen, political science professor, chair of the Norman and Bernice Harris Center for Judaic Studies, and editor of the book Antisemitism on the Rise: The 1930’s and Today.

View the conversation here.

Reproductive Rights in Nebraska—Where Do We Go From Here?

A panel of local and national experts in a moderated discussion about protecting reproductive rights in Nebraska.

OUR GOAL: to equip attendees with tools to advocate for reproductive freedom, learn how to build coalitions, and how to communicate with local lawmakers.