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What's Happening at the JCRC?

January 18, 2023
Jewish Disability Advocacy Day?: Wednesday, February 15 at 11am
Join Jewish Federations, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and the Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies for Jewish Disability Advocacy Day. We will come together at our kickoff virtual community event for a program of education, advocacy, empowerment, and impact. For questions, please contact us. Register here

January 16, 2023
Racial Justice and Reaffirming the Black & Jewish Communities' Relationship
On Saturday night, January 21, at 7pm at the Staenberg Omaha Jewish Community Center, the community is invited to a Community Conversation about racial justice and how in Omaha may work to improve relations with our Black neighbors. The conversation will be facilitated by Maharat Rori Picker Niess. Maharat Rori has been on the front lines of racial justice and is a leader in interfaith and race relations in her community. She has written extensively on her experiences during the unrest in Ferguson, MO, which is just a few miles from her home. RSVPs to are appreciated.

January 5, 2023
As our next Community Conversation on Antisemitism on January 11 approaches, we are sharing this article from The Forward. In it, editor-at-large, Robin Washington, talked with two scholars about Black Israelites or Hebrews that Ye and other prominent Black leaders have brought to the forefront. You can read the article here.

December 18, 2022
The JCRC is dedicated this Chanukah to the global #ShineALight campaign, which we encourage you to follow and share on Facebook and Instagram. During this Festival of Lights, we are focused on preparations for our next Community Conversation on January 11 at 7:00 PM
, when we focus on antisemitism. 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, David Goldenberg;  JFO’s Safety & Security Manager, James Donahue; a Nebraska State Senator (several invitations are pending at the time of this writing); and Dr. Ari Kohen.  


I recently read an article (to be discussed in a Community Conversation in the future, but not January 11) that offered some hope in these awkward antisemitic times. It posits that “… when antisemitism reared its ugly head this past month, American society clubbed it. Ye was mocked on late night, chastised by pundits across the ideological spectrum and abandoned by his sponsors. According to the trackers, antisemitism went up. But also: Ye went down.” Celebrities of all races and political stripes, from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to Def Jam, Reese Witherspoon, John Mellencamp, John Legend, and more came out to call out, condemn and cut ties with the rapper, the NBA star, and others who spew hateful and dangerous rhetoric. 

Many in our community called the JCRC to express concern after the ubiquitously covered, bombastic behavior of Ye, Irving, Chappelle, and the now infamous dinner at Mar-a-Lago. The worry was palpable. “Where are our Black allies? Why aren’t they showing up and speaking up?” “What are we in Omaha doing to respond?” 

The answer is complex and doesn’t often satisfy, but sometimes, the most effective responses are not necessarily high-profile, public begging or shaming of local leaders. Personally, I did receive calls and messages (private emails and DMs) from concerned friends, “Thinking of you, Dear Friend, during what must be ‘busy season’ in your line of work.” And, “Keep calm and cocktail on!” read another. 

But, my expectation was not that Black friends or community leaders in Omaha would jump on a soapbox and start posting anti-Ye declarations or “Kyrie doesn’t speak for me!” That’s certainly a conversation that we in the Jewish community should have to explore and unpack that sentiment further. But imagine how you would feel if and when some Jewish celebrity or person of note, let’s say, Bernie Madoff or Harvey Weinstein, says or does something absolutely unconscionable, unspeakable, and truly harmful. Then, a non-Jewish friend calls you for comment or your opinion as if, because you are Jewish, you are suddenly The Spokesperson for your community, which is assumed to be responsible for the said unconscionable act, and anything you say may be construed as being the official position of “the Jews,” a monolithic community that can’t contain its own. That call may be interpreted as accusatory. In the least, that’s awkward. At its worst, it’s misguided and unfair!

Sometimes, the greatest impact can be the quiet, respectful conversations that happen with our friends and colleagues; the opportunities that arise in circumstances and times such as these to reach out to our friends of color, other faiths, and beliefs to say, “I’m scared and angry about the recent antisemitic statements made by so-and-so.”  Or, “Can I talk to you about…?” “Would you lend an ear and share your thoughts about…?”

Between now and our Community Conversation on January 11,  the JCRC is committed to sharing some pre-event reading from thought leaders and experts in antisemitism. Call it “homework” if you wish, but think of it as background that may help you frame and formulate some thoughts and questions to bring to the panel discussion. Last month, Atlantic writer Yair Rosenberg wrote an interesting piece for his Substack column Deep Shtetl. “Why Fighting Conspiracy Theories Is Essential to Fighting Antisemitism” is an interesting read in preparation for our upcoming Community Conversation on antisemitism (You can also find it on Rosenberg’s Facebook page.)

I hope you’ll take some time to read it and know that our door and ears are always open! We’d love to know your thoughts and concerns, questions, and comments!

From our JCRC family to yours, may your homes and our community be filled with love and light this Chanukah! 

Chag Urim Sa’me’ach!
Sharon Brodkey
JCRC Executive Director