The Jewish Observer
News from Middle Tennessee's Jewish Community | Saturday, April 13, 2024
The Jewish Observer

Letter to the Editor, April 2024

The Work of the CRC Focuses on Jewish Values  in Our Community and in Middle Tennessee 


Last month’s Observer included a Letter to the Editor calling for realigning the work of the Jewish Federation’s Community Relations Committee (CRC) to bring about a “new and sharply narrowed focus for its work.” The signees proposed that the CRC “respond to anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist attacks and threats” and not to the “more nuanced and controversial moral issues of the day.” Their letter suggests that the sole mission of our CRC should be to defend Jewish life and Jewish lives here, in our Nashville community, and not engage with other organizations on other matters, even if those “issues of the day” also dramatically impact Jewish lives. 

The letter did not reference, among other programs, four community-wide CRC programs on antisemitism held over the last three years, a program for high school students and young adults with Oren Jacobson, founder of Project Shema (canceled in January due to weather); and, immediately after the October 7 massacre, and then after the Nashville Jewish professionals trip to Israel, the Federation sponsored the well-attended community-wide meetings about the conflict in Gaza. Nor did the letter acknowledge that behind the scenes, the Federation’s Community Relations Director is constantly engaged in one-on-one conversations with faith, ethnic and political leaders across the spectrum in Middle Tennessee when she learns of antisemitic statements or ill-informed initiatives critical of Israel. 

Clearly, the rise in antisemitism and the confusion and criticism regarding Israel’s response to the horrors of October 7 has been and must continue to be addressed.  

Our CRC currently provides ongoing targeted leadership to that challenge as it also nurtures relationships within the broader Nashville community on issues important to Jewish life and Jewish values. For example, the annual CRC Social Justice Seder brings together hundreds of attendees from throughout Nashville who learn about the Passover message of freedom and liberation. A recent CRC and Urban League co-sponsored event at the Tennessee State Museum focused on the Rosenwald Schools, funded by Julius Rosenwald, that educated Black children throughout the South. 

These relationships create networks and support for dialogue on many controversial topics important to our Jewish community. As one member of our Jewish community recently shared, “I depend on our Community Relations Committee to be the educational bridge between our Jewish community and our Nashville community.” 

At this critical time, we need to leverage those networks and relationships. The CRC has an opportunity — or, perhaps an obligation — to continue to reach out, to engage, to convene, to educate and, yes, to defend as necessary. The CRC is critical to promoting the values and goals of our Jewish community by engaging with all  Nashvillians in dialogue and in coalitions that support common goals. We cannot afford to isolate ourselves and expect others to have our backs. 


We can support our CRC with three categories of work: 

  • Increase the dialogue within our Jewish community regarding the history and complexity of what is happening in Israel and the whiplash of international opinion; 
  • Convene and facilitate constructive dialogue within our non-Jewish Nashville community regarding antisemitism and the complexity of what is happening in Israel and the whiplash of international opinion; 
  • Continue the work of focusing issues critical to living a wholesome, safe Jewish life. 


We should anchor this work in the current CRC mission as stated in the Jewish Federation by-laws: 

“…to advocate for Jewish interests and values, dedicate itself to the safety and security of the State of Israel, and to foster constructive relationships within the Jewish community and among people of all faiths and cultures…” 


Please support our Jewish Federation Community Relations Committee as it continues all of this important work. 


List of Signers to the Response: 

Felice Apolinsky 

Fabian Bedne 

Liz Berger 

Mike Berger 

Kitty Calhoun 

Sharon Charney 

Teena Cohen 

Delilah Cohn 

Erin Coleman 

Donna Eskind 

Jeff Eskind  

Sherry Essig 

Susan Foxman 

Judy Freudenthal 

Faith Haber Gaibraith 

Ron Galbraith 

Cindy Gold 

Michael Gold 

Deana Goldstein 

Debby Gould 

Pat Halper 

Lynn Heady  

Ron Heady 

Benita Kaimowitz 

Renee Kasman 

Susan Kay 

Irwin Kuhn 

Ruth Lebovitz 

Sally Levine 

Ellen Levitt 

Michael Levitt 

Betty Lichstein 

Kenny Lichstein 

Sam Lorber 

Eric Miller 

Terry Minnen 

Nina Pacent 

Susan Pankowsky 

Sylvia Rapoport 

Michael Richardson 

Nancy Richardson 

Nashville Jews for Social Justice Facebook Group 

Ceci Sachs 

Judith Saks 

Josh Segall 

Mary Shelton 

Susan Simpson 

Anna Sir 

Martin Sir 

Howard Rosenblum 

Terry Katzman Rosenblum 

Rob Stein 

Ruth Tobin 

Mitch Tobin 

Steve Venick 

Irwin Venick 

Hedy Weinberg 

Bruce Zeitlin 







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