One evening in 2012 a woman stopped me following Shabbat services at Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation and introduced herself. At the time, I was the campaign manager for a very competitive statehouse race and upon learning this, the woman said, “Oh wow! I need to get you involved with JCRC.” My response? “What’s JCRC?”
That woman was Lindsey Mintz, who was about to take over the JCRC as its new Executive Director. The rest, as they say, is history. I joined the JCRC board as an agency representative of IHC and when it became clear that the JCRC required additional staff support, I began working for the organization part-time while finishing my master’s degree in Nonprofit Management at IUPUI. As the effort to delegitimize Israel grew in Indiana, I joined the JCRC staff full-time as we set out to “claim our space” and own our narrative as Zionists committed to improving the quality of life of ALL people.
In my time at the JCRC, I traveled to Israel as part of the Jewish Council for Public Affair’s Leadership Mission and had meaningful conversations with everyone from members of the Knesset to pro-peace organizations like Roots – an organization working to bring together Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the West Bank. This year, we brought Roots to Indianapolis and their message of peace gave hope to nearly 600 people in our city.
We increased outreach and engagement with the local Muslim community following a visit from WomenCookingADialogue, a group of Israeli Jewish and Israeli Arab women working together on coexistence projects in our community’s Partnership region in the Western Galilee. Following that visit, we launched the Muslim Jewish Women’s Alliance, a year-long program in partnership with the Muslim Alliance of Indiana. We had four times as many women apply as we were able to accept. We’ve visited synagogues and mosques, celebrated Passover and Ramadan, and in August did a joint service project at the Julian Center to benefit women and children who were victims of domestic violence in our Indianapolis community. During our time together, I’ve seen understanding and friendships grow and blossom.
We helped students on campus push back against active BDS campaigns and incidents of Antisemitism at the University of Indianapolis, IUPUI, and Purdue. There is more work and education to be done, but we are winning. I witnessed now Vice-President Pence sign historic anti-BDS legislation making Indiana the second state in the nation to do so; states across the nation have since followed in Indiana’s footsteps.
Today marks my last day on staff at the JCRC. I am grateful to the JCRC Board for the trust they placed in me to serve the organization and the opportunity to work alongside two great professionals in Lindsey and David Sklar, the organization’s Government Affairs Director. I learned so much from their experience and guidance over the years.
As I move forward to other professional opportunities, I want the community to know I feel privileged for the experiences I’ve had in my time with the JCRC. From Shabbat dinners with Congress members, to lobby days at the Indiana Statehouse and on Capitol Hill, to missions to Israel and more, I will look back on my time with the JCRC fondly and look forward to seeing the new heights the organization will reach in the coming years.