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

Schiftan Letter to the Editor, March 2024

 Letter to the Editor  — Community Relations Council Needs Reworking 


The Community Relations Committee (CRC) needs a new and sharply narrowed focus. Its sole purpose should be to respond to anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist attacks and threats. It needs to serve as the primary organization charged with defending our Jewish community from hostile acts, articles, and attacks, whether from the media or from individuals or from institutions that misrepresent us in the wider community. The need for this renewed focus is especially critical and urgent at times like these, when the rise of anti-Semitic incidents and hate speech against Israel have increased dramatically over the past several years. 


The more nuanced and controversial moral issues of the day — abortion, gun control, immigration, and the like — as important as they may be, should not be a part of the CRC’s focus, time, or energy. Let our Rabbis speak and teach on these issues, as we have always looked towards them to do. In recent years, too much attention has been directed towards these issues, which is a questionable use of the Jewish community’s limited resources.  


This narrowed vision of a restructured CRC is not motivated by either a conservative or liberal agenda. It comes from an urgent need for an effective and dedicated response to the challenges directly in front of us that threaten our community’s sense of safety and security in the broadest sense imaginable. 


One final note: This committee and its scope and purpose should be a vital part of the Federation Director’s portfolio. He or she should be the primary link between the Jewish community and the community-at-large. Even more, he or she must consistently represent the truest priorities of the members of the Jewish community. 


The times demand that we use our CRC as the defender of Jewish life and Jewish lives in our Nashville community. It is time to regain and revive that primary purpose once again. 


Frank Boehm 

Joanne Bregman 

Michael Dobrin 

James Fishel 

Andy May 

Bernie Pargh 

Franklin Pargh 

Arthur Perlen 

Rabbi Mark Schiftan 

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Jimmy Schulman 

David Steine 


Editor’s Note:

Below is an excerpt from The Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville’s by-laws, describing the mandate of the CRC:

The Community Relations Committee (CRC) shall be composed of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson and other members representing each of the local congregations, local beneficiary agencies of the Federation, other local Jewish organizations or local chapters of national Jewish organizations and at-large members. The mission of the CRC, in partnership with its affiliate the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), is 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 in order to promote a just, democratic and pluralistic American society. The chairperson and vice-chairperson shall be appointed annually by the President of the Federation. CRC members shall serve two-year renewable terms. The CRC shall carry out a unified program of community relations. It shall represent, and act on behalf of the community, in matters of Jewish interest concerning local, state, national and international affairs.