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At Adath - The Blog

10/12/2021 12:23:34 PM


Martha Dave Brand

American Jewish Committee

The following is a speech delivered on October 10th at the shul to kick off the Israel Engagement Committee’s first Shabbat representing various organizations congregants are involved in that are dedicated to Israel

Shabbat Shalom! My name is Martha Brand Dave and I am here this morning for the kickoff of the Israel Engagement Committee’s first Shabbat representing various organizations congregants are involved in that are dedicated to Israel. My focus will be the American Jewish Committee (AJC). I first became involved in AJC through its amazing programming. I attended a number of the programs, several of which I will be discussing shortly, and I quickly realized that my passion and values are very much aligned with AJC. I participated in the Simon Lazarus Human Relations Awards as a committee member three times and was a co-chair several years ago. Shortly after, I was asked to join the Board which has been a great experience working collaboratively with Cathy Heldman, the Regional AJC Director and my fellow Board members. Adath Israel is well represented on the AJC Board including our president, Noah Stern, former president Sandy Kaltman, Jan Armstrong Cobb, Ed Frankel, Julie Glazer, Kurt Grossman, Buddy Hertzman, Brad Glazer, Nicole Schneider and Brooke Guigui. Our own Rabbi Ben Chaidell is serving a one-year term on our Board.

Now let me tell you a little bit about AJC. For the past 115 years, regardless of which political party has been in power in Washington or elsewhere in the world, American Jewish Committee (AJC) has been pursuing global diplomacy, legislative advocacy, and interreligious coalition building, locally, nationally and globally. The focus of our efforts changes as times change, and currently, our priorities are to combat antisemitism and all forms of hate, strengthen Israel’s place in the world and cultivate new allies, and promote pluralism and protect democratic values.

As the leading Jewish Global advocacy organization with offices here and around the globe, AJC tackles the most pressing issues in a deliberate, diplomatic, and thoughtful manner. AJC’s global presence includes 24 U.S. offices, 12 overseas posts, including AJC Jerusalem, and 37 international partnerships. AJC has the access and credibility to be a trusted partner to those in the halls of power and its international credibility opens doors worldwide.

AJC vigorously defends Israel’s place among the nations, and stands up for mutual respect, pluralism, and democratic values for all. AJC advances its mission by building long-term, strategic alliances with influential political, ethnic, and religious leaders across all nations and faiths. It is an approach that relies more on building bonds of trust with key decision-makers and less on making headlines, shaping the world we want to live in – a world without terror, hate, and anti-Semitism and Israel is free from the fear of constant attack.

AJC employs understanding and respect and applies reason and intellect. Vigorously defending Israel and the Jewish people and human rights and democratic values for all, provides AJC with an opportunity to shape the world we want to live in – a world without terror, hate, and anti-Semitism; where Israel is free from the fear of constant attack; and where pluralism and democratic rights are protected.

Sometimes our advocacy work is done alone, but often it is undertaken in coalition with Jewish communities and allies world-wide. During these divisive times, when our politics have become so polarized, we are fortunate to have AJC – the one organization capable of working with over 100 nations and across party lines while still standing strong for Israel and resolutely representing the needs of the Jewish people.

Since 1943, our Cincinnati Regional Office has helped accomplish AJC’s ever-changing priorities. From issues such as education reform and energy security, to civil rights and human rights, AJC has advocated for the well-being of the Jewish people and democratic values for all.

You may be familiar with the three signature programs AJC Cincinnati proudly presents annually.

The Simon Lazarus, Jr., Human Relations Awards recognizes juniors and seniors from area public, private, and parochial high schools for their outstanding volunteer and service work. A committee of volunteers selects the semifinalists by considering each applicant’s anonymous essay and recommendations. Winners and finalists are selected by a panel of five distinguished community leaders who serve as judges and award presenters. In fact, Rabbi Ben Chaidell served as a judge in our most recent program which was presented virtually.

At the AJC Cincinnati Community Intergroup Seder, inspired by the ageless ritual of the Passover Seder, AJC invites public officials, church groups, and local high school students to convey and commemorate the Passover message of freedom.

Each fall, AJC Cincinnati presents a Thanksgiving Diversity Lunch. This annual celebration was begun nationally by American Jewish Committee (AJC) immediately following the events of September 11, 2001 and is a great example of interfaith and intergroup understanding. As the one major holiday that unites us, the Thanksgiving Diversity Lunch brings together civic leaders, local ethnic, religious, and international communities to celebrate our unique roots and shared values.

The Thanksgiving Diversity Lunch attracts an assorted group of individuals, and the event Planning Committee, representing many different diverse communities, exemplifies that commitment. This year’s Committee members are from the Jewish, Catholic, Christian, Muslim, Latter-Day Saints, Hindu, Baha’i, Sikh, Zoroastrian, Japanese, Chinese, and Hispanic communities. In addition to reading from the AJC Thanksgiving Reader, the Committee selects a timely topic that inspires facilitated table talks.

Locally, we have built valuable associations with our legislators and key members of their staff in Ohio and Kentucky. We forged loyal connections with our local intergroup and interfaith partners. These relationships have and will continue to help us build a safer, more secure future for the Jewish people, Israel, and all humanity. Sandy Kaltman co-chairs our interfaith engagement. At the present time, examples of with whom we have our interfaith dialogues are the Jesus Christ Church of the Latter Day Saints (I participate in that dialogue), the Islam community, and a recently re-engaged group of Black and Jewish members, which is headed by Jan Armstrong Cobb.

In these challenging times, in Cincinnati, across the U.S., and around the world, AJC is fighting for a safer, more peaceful future for the Jewish people, Israel, and all humanity.

I encourage all of you to attend AJC’s excellent programming, perhaps starting with the Thanksgiving Diversity Lunch, our next program. As a follow-up to today’s topic of AJC, you are all invited to join us to hear our guest speaker, Doreen Rosenblum, who is the Assistant Director for government and diplomatic relations in the Jerusalem office. She will be coming live to us via Zoom next Sunday, October 10, at 10:30am – 11:30am. Doreen will discuss the important work of the AJC including how the AJC works with foreign ambassadors and members of the Knesset for the betterment of Israel and its diplomatic status in the world. Information has been sent out about how to register. A big thank you to Cathy Heldman, the Regional Director of AJC,  for helping us to secure Doreen as a speaker.

Thank you for your time. Shabbat Shalom.

Sun, June 26 2022 27 Sivan 5782