Advocacy in Action: Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte’s JCRC Leading the Charge

By Jessica Goldfarb, JFGC Communications Specialist

Through strategic engagement with local representatives and active advocacy in legislative matters, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), the advocacy and public affairs arm of the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte (JFGC), is effecting real change and garnering crucial support for bills that safeguard Jewish interests and promote humanitarian aid efforts in Israel.
A recent success for our Jewish community is the passing of the National Security Supplemental package. This legislation allocates $26.4 billion to support relief efforts in Israel, with an additional $400 million directed to the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP), providing funding to proactively safeguard places of worship and community gatherings from the rise in antisemitic incidents. In an unprecedented display of unity, the bill received overwhelming bipartisan support; all but one North Carolina representative voted yes.

Building on this success, the JCRC continues to advance causes vital to our community, including advocating for the Antisemitism Awareness Act and the Shalom Act, which will require the adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism as the single, guiding definition to be used in legislative matters. The Antisemitism Awareness Act specifically aims to combat antisemitism in educational settings by establishing a clear framework for identifying and addressing antisemitic incidents to be used by the US Department of Education. Similarly, on a state level, the Shalom Act seeks to redefine antisemitism within North Carolina’s legal framework, aligning the state’s definition with that of the IHRA and paving the way for more effective responses and interventions.

The IHRA definition states: “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews…” and goes on to give several examples of antisemitism, including the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. It does, however, make the distinction that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.” Both bills have passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the House and are now set to move forward to the Senate.

The “Day of Advocacy” in Raleigh was another pivotal moment for Jews in North Carolina. On May 8, JCRC members, alongside other North Carolina Jewish Federations and advocacy groups, converged on the state capital to engage directly with lawmakers, including North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, and be present for the House vote on the Shalom Act. This event served as a powerful platform for amplifying the voices of our local Jewish community, ensuring that our concerns are heard and heeded by the legislative bodies that govern us. “The passage of the Shalom Act with bipartisan support would not have happened without the combined efforts of Jewish Federations in North Carolina on our Day of Advocacy,” said Douglas Greene, JFGC’s government relations and public affairs associate. “Greensboro, Durham, Charlotte, and Raleigh all came together in one unified voice to urge our respective elected officials to give their support, showcasing the magnitude of our collective efforts.”

 At its core, the JCRC embodies a commitment to education, engagement, and mobilization. By advocating for the collective priorities and concerns of our Jewish community, they play a vital role in shaping public discourse and driving meaningful change. Through their unwavering dedication and proactive approach, the JCRC continues to make a lasting impact on issues ranging from antisemitism to Israel affairs. As events continue to unfold, the JCRC will continue to respond with the interests of our community at heart.

Photo caption: Members of the JCRC convened at the North Carolina General Assembly for the May 8 Day of Advocacy. Left to right: Sharyn Handelsman, Harrison Smookler, Douglas Greene, Steve Menaker, Amy Vitner, Tair Giudice, Eric Laxer

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