New JCRC Policy Statements
The Youngstown Area Jewish Federation board of directors in July 2018 passed two Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) policy statements.
The statement on immigration/family separations states the Federation is strongly opposed to the recently expanded “zero-tolerance” policy that includes separating children from their migrant parents when they cross the border because this policy undermines the values of the nation and jeopardizes the safety and well-being of thousands of people. It also says separating families is a cruel punishment for children and families simply seeking a better life and exacerbates existing challenges in the immigration system and adds to the backlog of deportation cases and legal challenges in federal courts, places thousands more immigrants in detention facilities and shelters, endangers the lives of more children, and instills additional fear in people seeking safety in this country.
The statement on gun violence calls for action to address and end gun violence in America. It acknowledges the breadth, diversity, and passionate depth of feeling and informed opinion on gun ownership and gun control, both nationally and in the local community. It also recognizes and supports the second amendment of the Bill of Rights, integral to the U.S. Constitution, which permits law abiding Americans to own handguns and rifles for legitimate purposes. However, the Federation is heartbroken by the horrific deadly shootings this year at a high school in Parkland, Fl., and at a newspaper office in Annapolis, Md, as well as at many other locations targeting children at schools, students and faculty at institutes of higher education, patrons at local businesses, congregants at houses of worship, and employees at work, dating back to the Columbine shootings nearly two decades ago.
Driven by a strong fundamental moral belief in the sanctity of life and commandment against murder, (“whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world,”) the Federation is committed to a comprehensive approach to confronting gun violence and believe it is a moral obligation to advocate for change in the nation’s laws in order to save innocent lives and prevent needless injuries. Since no single solution will prevent all future tragedies, the policy advocates for a balanced, multi-pronged approach.
The statement offers recommendations on gun regulations and school safety regulations. To advocate for these regulations, the Federation, through the JCRC, will communicate with elected officials about existing and potentially new legislation; communicate with the Jewish and general communities through conventional and social media; participate in coalitions with other faith-based and community groups, as well as with law enforcement agencies, to advocate for jointly held positions and for reducing gun violence; will monitor developments at the federal, state, and local levels; and will evaluate other possible measures to reduce gun violence.
“The process to develop these statements was thorough and time-consuming,” said Bonnie Deutsch Burdman, Federation director of community relations/government affairs. “I want to thank Suzyn Schwebel Epstein, chair of the JCRC; Andy Moyer, chairperson of the Government Affairs Committee of the JCRC; and the lay leadership involved for their thoughtful, hard work on these important issues.”