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Community Relations

A Jewish Voice For Social Justice, Advocacy and Israel

At the core of our Community Relations (CR) work at the Rochester Federation are commitments to Tzedek, pursuing justice, and Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.  We are working to build a Jewish community committed to learning, caring and social justice in our city, our country and in Israel.  We embrace Tzedek as the foundation of our work, acknowledging that the pursuit of justice is not a choice; it is a primary obligation of Jewish life.  To this end, we work in cooperation with Jewish community partners and with those in other ethnic and religious communities on key areas of concern.

We stay in close contact with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), the representative voice of the organized American Jewish community in addressing the national Jewish community relations mandate.

Social Justice

Our CR committee encourages Jewish organizations and their members to engage in meaningful social justice work that serves as a vital link between the Jewish community and our neighbors.

Now in its 15th successful year, we engage 150-200 volunteers annually through the Rochester Jewish Coalition for Literacy helping students in 14 Rochester city schools learn to read at grade level. For information about getting involved in the literacy project, contact dbarrett@jewishrochester.org.

We've coordinated Earth Sunday, an interfaith project encouraging the community to "reuse, recycle and renew"; in 2011, we collected 15 42-gallon bags of plastics collected, 13,654 lbs. of electronics, 260 lbs. of pharmaceuticals, 3,000 lbs. of paper, and 44 bags of clothing!

We have been instrumental in assuring a safe place for abused Jewish women through the establishment of the 24-hour Sara Line

In 2011, we held a "model Seder" for Christians and Jews to explore Christian and Jewish perspectives on the theology, ritual and food associated with Passover.

Our noon-time Christian Jewish bible study, after 17 successful years of shared text exploration, has begun again with, "Twice Told Tales in Hebrew and Christian Scriptures." To see the schedule of sessions, held at the Federation, download the 2013-14 schedule.  

The Commission on Jewish Muslim Understanding of the Jewish Community Federation and the Islamic Center of Rochester sponsors periodic discussions, free and open to the community. Visit us regularly for updates.

Read about our Rome Mission with members of the Catholic community marking our historic Rochester Agreement. 

Advocacy

Whether we are speaking out for health care concerns, working on behalf of peace with security for Israel, or lobbying for hate crime legislation, gun control, or urban sprawl, we have helped to forge coalitions between grassroots activists and elected officials to influence public policy.  Highlights of our domestic advocacy agenda have included issues related to domestic violence, genetic privacy, and emerging faith-based initiative concerns.  Each year, we sponsor a legislative gathering for state and local elected officials.  We participate in the annual Jewish Council for Public Affairs Plenum, establishing a national legislative agenda for our Jewish community, and a yearly Upstate New York trip to visit with elected officials in Albany.

Israel

In this area of Community Relations, we respond to needs in Israel as they arise and implement programs designed to engage synagogues, organizations and individual members of the Rochester Jewish Community.

We offer regular opportunities to get updates on Israel affairs from experts on Israel's political scene.

We have initiated:

  • The Blue Ribbon Campaign, showing our support for and solidarity with Israel
  • Community rallies in support of Israel
    Special Israel speakers including David Horowitz, Reporter; Allison Sommer, Author; Mark Regev, Washington Consulate representative; and Raphael Danziger, AIPAC.
  • Prayers for Peace, a pre-Pesach campaign in which over 300 original prayers written by Hebrew school students were sent to the Tali School in Gilo
  • Yom Ha'Atzmaut celebrations. We continue to hold celebrations each year in honor of Israel's anniversary.

For information about how you can get involved, contact Rabbi Debbi Till at 585-461-0490 or dtill@jewishrochester.org.