Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)

The Strength and Heart of Our Community

Crescent Lake panorama, Olympic National Park, Washington

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle leverages the strength and heart of Puget Sound’s diverse Jewish community to secure a vibrant Jewish future locally, in Israel, and around the world and to champion a just, democratic, and pluralistic society.

The JCRC includes organizational members representing Puget Sound-area synagogues and Jewish organizations, at-large members, and advisory board officers. The JCRC is funded and operated by the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and is one of 122 Jewish community relations councils affiliated with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

The JCRC’s core work includes:

  • Combating antisemitism, bigotry, and racism
  • Supporting a peaceful, secure, Jewish, and democratic state of Israel
  • Fostering positive and meaningful relations with other communities and public officials
  • Strengthening our Jewish communities through building cohesion and civil discourse

What We Do

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) brings together and mobilizes the Jewish community on critical issues—amplifying our collective voice. We foster meaningful relationships among diverse ethnic, racial, religious, and interest groups, building coalitions based on mutual areas of concern. The JCRC educates and advocates at the local, state, and national levels to advance Jewish concerns in the public arena. JCRC is a trusted resource for our community, political, and faith-based partners, providing nuanced insights and support on sensitive community and government relations matters.

We work both behind the scenes and on the front lines. The JCRC’s policy positions are formed based on consensus and civility, reflecting and with respect for our community’s diversity.

The Washington State Capitol Building in Olympia
Group of business people discussing document and using laptop during team work at business meeting

Who We Are

The JCRC comprises a Community Council, Advisory Board, and four standing committees. The Community Council is the central, deliberative, consensus-building body of the JCRC. The Advisory Board provides strategic direction and oversight of JCRC operations and can act as a decision-making body when the Council cannot meet.

The four standing committees inform and drive the work of the JCRC. The committees include Public Advocacy, Israel Affairs, Intergroup Relations, and Membership.

  • Intergroup Relations—Focused on building bridges with key non-Jewish communities.
  • Israel Affairs—Focused on strengthening Israel-America relations and engagement with Israel.
  • Public Advocacy—Focused on legislative issues and advocacy work with public officials and in the public sphere.
  • Membership—Focused on the experience of JCRC members, recruitment and retention of leadership, and nominations.

2023-2024 JCRC Advisory Board

Board Chair
Audrey Covner

Immediate Past Board Chair
Bill Mowat

Federation Board Chair Designee
Linda Clifton

Israel Affairs Chair
Susan Adler

Public Advocacy Chair
Hannah Lidman

Membership Chair
Allix DeGraff

Intergroup Relations Chair
Rivy Poupko Kletenik

At-Large Advisory Board Member
Hilary Bernstein

JCRC Community Council Institutional Members

American Jewish Committee (AJC)
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Pacific Northwest
Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue
Bet Chaverim
Camp Solomon Schechter
Congregation Beth Shalom
Congregation Ezra Bessaroth
Congregation Kol  Shalom
Hebrew Free Loan Association of Washington State
Herzl-Ner Tamid Conservative Congregation
Hillel UW
Holocaust Center for Humanity
J Street Seattle
Jewish Family Service
Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle
Kavana Cooperative
Kol Ami: A Center for Jewish Life
Kol HaNeshamah
Menachem Mendel Seattle Cheder Day School
Mercaz Seattle
New Israel Fund
Seattle Hadassah
Seattle Jewish Community School
Seattle Hebrew Academy
StandWithUs Northwest
Stroum Jewish Community Center
Temple Beth Am
Temple Beth  El
Temple Beth Hatfiloh
Temple Beth Or
Temple B’nai Torah
Temple De Hirsch Sinai
Va’ad HaRabanim of Greater Seattle
Washington Coalition of Rabbis
Washington State Jewish Historical Society

JCRC Community Council At-Large Members

Lian Caspi
Lior Caspi
Marla Dunn
Akiva Erezim
Amir Golan
Gavriella Gold
Lila Mowatt
Scott Prange
Will Wright

JCRC Staff

Maxima Patashnik
Director of Jewish Community Relations Council & Government Affairs

Cassie Garvin
Intergroup Relations & Israel Affairs Manager

Aliza Mossman
Jewish Community Relations Council & Advocacy Associate

Perri Doll
JCRC Advocacy & Outreach Coordinator

The Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Seattle (JCRC) leverages the strength and heart of Puget Sound’s diverse Jewish community to secure a vibrant Jewish future locally, in Israel, and around the world, and to champion a just, democratic, and pluralistic society.

The JCRC convenes and mobilizes our community, educates and advocates on issues of vital concern based on Jewish values, consensus and respect for our diversity, and builds bridges within and beyond the Jewish community focused on core issues including:

  • Combating antisemitism, bigotry, and racism
  • Supporting a peaceful, secure, Jewish, and democratic State of Israel
  • Fostering positive and meaningful relations with other communities and public officials
  • Strengthening our Jewish communities through building cohesion and civil discourse

In pursuing its mission, the JCRC is committed to:

  • Building and sustaining a JCRC membership of actively engaged and diverse Jewish institutions committed to JCRC’s mission, core issues, and processes while each maintains its own distinct organizational mandate and identity
  • Striving to achieve consensus, with general agreement but not necessarily unanimity, on key issues while demonstrating respect for dissenting opinions
  • Modeling civil discourse for the Jewish community by ensuring that its own deliberations, including on complex issues, are lifted by a common commitment to civility even in the face of disagreement
  • Convening and mobilizing our community on the full range of issues of vital concern to our community based on a shared commitment to strategic activism
  • Affirming the link between the health of key democratic institutions in American society and our well-being as Jews
  • Reaching out to develop strong relationships with key ethnic, religious, and community groups and individual ethnic and religious leaders, public officials, media, law enforcement officials, school administrators, and leaders of other key community constituencies, including the LGBTQ and labor communities
  • Partnering with Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, with respect for diverse backgrounds, traditions, beliefs, and experiences, to achieve common goals and build a more cohesive community
  • Educating about Jews’ deep religious and historical connection with the land of Israel and advocating about the importance of preserving Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, committed to equal opportunity for all its citizens and the pursuit of peace among all its neighbors

handshake illustrationB’Tselem Elokim | Value the Humanity in Each Person
We protect the life and dignity of every person, and work to ensure dignity and justice for all people irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity, political affiliation, gender identity, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability.

Megaphone IllustrationLo Ta’amod Al Dam Rey’echa | Do Not Stand Idly By
“In a free society, only some may be guilty but all are responsible.” (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel). Each time we stand up for an ideal, or act to improve the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves, voicing the Jewish community’s concern on critical issues in the public sphere, we demonstrate a commitment to solidarity with others.

Scales Illustration“Tzedek Tzedek Tirdof” | “Justice, justice, you shall pursue.”
One of the most central tenets of Judaism is to pursue justice. More than merely respecting or following justice, we must actively pursue it. The repetition of the word “justice” emphasizes the centrality of this value in our religious consciousness and behavior, both traditionally and today.

Globe illustrationTikkun Olam | Repair of the World
We work to improve the world, one relationship at a time. Many experiences in life threaten to break us. But such experiences also make us more whole as human beings. They expand our range of consciousness and compassion. They enlarge our capacity for inclusion. They make us stronger and help us reach out to others with greater empathy and concern.

listening ear illustrationElu V’Elu | Openness to Multiple Perspectives
The Jewish approach includes recognizing that there are multiple sides of an issue, being open to hearing views that are not our own, and grappling with complexity.

illustration of hand with leavesIm Ayn Ani Li, Mi Li? U’She’ani Le’atzmi Mah Ani? Ve’im Lo Achshav, AyMatai? | If I Am Not For Myself, Who Will Be For Me? If I Am Only For Myself, What Am I? And If Not Now, When?
We advocate for Jewish community interests while collaborating with other faith, ethnic, and emerging communities who share our goals.

illustration of dove with olive branchDarchei Shalom | Paths of Peace
We keep peace with our neighbors by building strong relationships, promoting mutual respect, and fostering understanding.

Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh La Zeh | All in the House of Israel are Responsible for One Another
We mobilize the community when Jews anywhere are in need of our support. We are many Jewish communities bound together by shared values, history, religion, and culture.

The JCRC believes that civil political discourse, as understood through a culturally sensitive lens, is the key to having a knowledgeable electorate. The deterioration of political disagreement into personalized attacks or hostile arguments and sometimes even violence diminishes the electoral process and discourages and alienates potential voters. The JCRC calls on candidates, parties, political organizations, corporations, unions, political action committees, and others engaging in the electoral process to focus on issues and reject campaign strategies that resort to ad hominem, bigoted, antisemitic, or racist attacks, distort records, and/or distract from the pressing issues of the day. The JCRC opposes efforts to undermine confidence in elections, as the electoral process is critical to the health and legitimacy of America’s democratic institutions.

Humanitarian Crises and Refugees
The JCRC supports the vigorous protection of human rights as an integral part of U.S. foreign policy, especially situations involving genocide, mass atrocities, and sweeping population shifts due to displacement by war, violence, and/or climate change. Effective American engagement in this area should prioritize diplomacy, de-escalation, and humanitarian support, be on a multilateral basis when possible, and only unilateral when necessary. Our community must uphold the words “Never Again” and therefore has a moral responsibility to raise awareness about and advocate against genocide and mass atrocities. The JCRC also believes that the international community must respond to today’s unprecedented refugee crisis. The U.S., having a robust refugee resettlement program, should increase annual admissions of refugees while maintaining the rigorous security screenings that are integral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.

Israel’s Right to Defend Itself
The JCRC supports a peaceful, secure, Jewish, and democratic State of Israel. The JCRC believes Israel, as a sovereign nation, has the right and obligation to defend and protect all of its people from attacks and acts of aggression. The JCRC mourns the loss of innocent Israeli and Palestinian lives and the enormous suffering and human toll the conflict has had on both societies.

Minority Rights in Israel
The  JCRC values the civil and social equality of all residents of the State of Israel. Israel is a diverse multiethnic and multireligious society; non-Jewish residents of Israel comprise around 20 percent of the population and are engaged in institutions across Israeli society from the Knesset to academia and beyond. The racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity of Jewish communities in Israel today reflects both our ancestral connection to the land as well as our history of exile and dispersion. Israel’s Declaration of Independence is clear about equal treatment and inclusion for all inhabitants. As in many countries, work remains to strengthen protections, rights, and freedoms for marginalized and underrepresented communities. The JCRC believes it is the responsibility of Israel’s leaders to promote engagement and investment across various segments of the population and ensure equal civil rights and protections under the law, including Israel’s Basic Laws. The participation of all populations in Israeli society contributes to its diverse fabric and strengthens the country’s continued political, social, and economic stability and prosperity.

Note: This policy is not intended to apply to Gaza or the West Bank/Judea and Samaria. Residents of these areas and their rights and experiences as they relate to the government of Israel require additional deliberation and discussion by the JCRC.

Poverty and Food Insecurity
The JCRC is committed to building a more just and equitable society, especially as a growing number of middle- and low-income families are facing abject poverty and food insecurity. We strongly support expanding eligibility for the Earned Income and Child Tax Credits and policies that help empower older adults to live healthier, more independent lives free from poverty. We support a robust social safety net that includes important programs like Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). To lift the next generation out of poverty, we also support full funding for child nutrition programs, such as the Summer Feeding Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Food insecurity is one of the most acute hardships that many Americans, including children, face across the country.

Puget Sound Jewish Community Statement on Antisemitism
In April 2023, the JCRC signed on to the Puget Sound Jewish Community Statement on Antisemitism.

Racial Equity and the Jewish Community
On December 15, 2021, we passed the consensus statement Racial Equity and the Jewish Community. The statement is long and more robust than the other positions the JCRC has adopted. You can read the full statement here.

Reproductive Rights
The JCRC supports access to safe, affordable, legal abortion and reproductive health care. Prohibiting access to abortion is contrary to Jewish law, traditions, and our people’s principal value of protecting life. While there are various rabbinic interpretations of Jewish law, what is consistent is that if pregnancy endangers the mother’s life physically, Jewish law permits, and in most cases, mandates abortion. Therefore, any law that limits abortion may restrict a Jew’s ability to make this personal decision in accordance with their religious beliefs. Our nation must respect—not legislate or criminalize—these decisions. Efforts to limit access to reproductive care have profound implications for religious freedom, personal decision-making, and human dignity—issues that are fundamental to our Jewish community and our democracy in America and that our JCRC is committed to preserving.

Voting Rights
The JCRC believes that every American citizen should have the opportunity to cast a meaningful ballot. JCRC will advocate for policies that make the process of voting easier and more accessible. We support measures such as: strengthening early voting opportunities, expanding automatic voter registration, ensuring each vote is weighted equally, and scheduling elections and caucuses so they are accessible to all eligible voters.

The JCRC supports Zionism: the belief that Jews have the right to self-determination and sovereignty within their ancestral and religious homeland of Israel. This aspiration was realized with the establishment of the modern State of Israel, founded to be a Jewish and democratic state. Zionists have a wide range of political perspectives on the policies and actions of the Israeli government.

What is a JCRC?

A Jewish Community Relations Council is a network of organizations and individual leaders supporting and advocating for the organized Jewish community. Our JCRC represents the organized Jewish community to the broader community, advances core Jewish interests by building bridges and relationships with ethnic and religious leaders, public officials, labor, LGBTQ, and other community leaders, media, and school officials, and educates and advocates on issues of concern from a consensus view.

Are there JCRCs in other communities?

There are about 120 JCRCs in the country that are networked through the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA). No JCRC is bound by what another JCRC does, but all have a similar mission and mandate—to protect the interests of the Jewish community by enhancing understanding of and support for our community and its concerns within the broader community and by finding common cause with other communities. Of the 120 or so JCRCs, approximately 105 are departments or committees of their local Federation and the remainder are independent 501(c)(3) organizations, retaining a close partnership with their Federation.

When and why were JCRCs originally formed?

Jewish community relations has been practiced since the moment Jews stepped into the Diaspora—Joseph in Egypt, Esther in Shushan. The formal field was created in 1944 near the end of the Holocaust when the Federation movement determined that one of the fatal flaws in the American Jewish response to the Holocaust was the lack of a united voice on the paramount issues of the day. To remedy that flaw, it was determined that umbrella bodies (JCRCs) should be established to try to develop consensus and then speak with a much stronger voice in representing the Jewish community to the broader community.

What are some of the issues JCRCs are known for?

JCRCs have played a leadership role on many issues over the decades. They were in the forefront of the Soviet Jewry advocacy movement, played a vital role in fighting for civil rights, have addressed antisemitism, bigotry and racism, have been very visible on immigration issues, and are actively engaged in support of strong Israel-America relations, especially in the battle against the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the United States. Typically, JCRCs also are heavily involved in interfaith and inter-ethnic relations as well as supporting Federations in their government affairs efforts.

Who is part of the JCRC?

The JCRC comprises a broad array of community organizations and individual leaders representing diverse constituencies within Puget Sound’s Jewish community. It has a Council composed of representatives of member organizations and at-large representatives that meets four times per year and an Advisory Board, whose members also serve on the Council, that meets more frequently. The Council serves as the JCRC’s central deliberative, consensus building body on public affairs issues by bringing together and mobilizing our community. The Advisory Board ensures the JCRC is fulfilling its mission collaboratively with the Federation, coordinates the work of the standing committees, and provides support to the professional team.

What is the relationship between the Federation and the JCRC?

The JCRC is the public affairs and external relations branch of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle. The Federation is both a member of and wholly responsible for the JCRC. In response to local need and national and local trends, the Federation re-created the JCRC in 2020 after a 30-year hiatus. The Federation is among the many voices included in the JCRC. At the same time, it is only through the Federation’s funding, staffing, and support that the JCRC exists. The Federation is therefore responsible for the JCRC’s actions and must be mindful of how these actions impact the work of the Federation as a whole, recognizing that at times the JCRC’s necessary work with other communities will inevitably cause some criticism.

JCRC successes benefit the Federation and the JCRC, while the Federation bears much of the brunt of criticism or pushback against JCRC decisions. The JCRC is structured with this delicate balance in mind. The Federation has a representative on the JCRC Advisory Board and multiple representatives on the JCRC Council to ensure that the Federation’s voice and perspective are incorporated in JCRC leadership and because the Federation has a vital stake in the relationship between the Jewish and broader communities. At the same time, the Federation does not have so many votes as to overwhelm the will of the community institutions and representatives.

Who gets to be an institutional or at-large member of the JCRC?

The operating procedures set specific criteria for consideration of member organizations whose applications go to the JCRC Advisory Board for review. If the Advisory Board approves a request for institutional membership, it is then submitted to the Council. The Council comprises over 30 community organizations and 20 individual leaders representing diverse constituencies within Puget Sound’s Jewish community. All members are expected to fulfill the requirements of membership, including, but not limited to, supporting the mission and core goals and principles of the JCRC that amplify the mission.

Does a JCRC have a unique role that distinguishes it from other organizations?

While there are several important Jewish advocacy organizations in the Seattle area, JCRC has a unique set of functions. They include:

  • Convening our diverse organized Jewish community around a common table on public affairs issues and modeling civil discourse in discussing issues of vital concern to our community;
  • Seeking consensus and speaking on behalf of our community when there is consensus;
  • Mobilizing our communal organizations on major issues;
  • To be an invaluable resource to communal institutions seeking to manage sensitive issues;
  • Building enduring relationships with key leaders in other ethnic and religious communities, with public officials and other communal leaders; and
  • Supporting and advocating for a wide array of local Jewish agencies.

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Thank You for Supporting Our Work
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Racial Equity: What I Learned as a Grownup
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Giving Thanks and Learning Together
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Deadly Exchange
September 24, 2021

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Finding a Path of Peace
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Refu’ah Sh’leymah
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Working Together
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Walk Beside Us
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We Will Speak. And We Will Be Heard.
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How Will You Be Part of the Change?
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Welcome from Your JCRC Director
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