Rabbi Doug Kahn
June 30, 2016
Posted by: Hadara Stanton, JCRC President, and Jeremy Russell, Communications Manager
In the photo above, Rabbi Doug Kahn holds aloft two prints by Polish born Jewish artist Arthur Szyk. Both of these luminous works are part of Szyk’s Visual History of Nations series, which was intended to celebrate the contributions that individual nations have made to human history. On the left is the Visual History of the United States and on the right is the Visual History of Israel, Szyk’s two most cherished visual histories. Here, they are reunited in tribute to Doug as he ends his tenure as executive director, and together they combine into a visual history of the themes of social justice and Jewish community that have marked his career.
We gave him this piece at the extraordinary community celebration earlier this month. The evening featured a wonderful interview with Doug by KQED’s Michael Krasny, as well as a speech by Mayor Edwin M. Lee, who declared the day to be “Rabbi Doug Kahn Day” for the City of San Francisco. Doug was presented a statement published in the Congressional Record by a delegation of Bay Area Congressional representatives, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Representatives Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Mike Thompson, Barbara Lee, Anna Eshoo and Eric Swalwell. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors also issued him a Certificate of Honor, which was hand delivered by Supervisor Scott Wiener. Separately, a commendation was sent by California State Controller Betty Yee and resolutions were crafted by Board of Equalization Chair Fiona Ma and by California Senator Mark Leno with Assembly members David Chiu and Philip Ting. Earlier, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs also honored Doug with a resolution and the Jewish Public Affairs Committee of California awarded him The Earl Raab Award for 2016.
In addition, the June third edition of the J Weekly featured an editorial and cover story about “The Path of Kahn,” which was accompanied by tributes from 17 local organizations wishing him mazal tov, yasher koach and kol hakavod. Here are just a few of the tremendous things people had to say: “A leading light on issues of import, Rabbi Doug Kahn covered the spectrum” … “You have helped hundreds build special and important relationships with Israel, all while ensuring a thriving, dynamic and inclusive community at home” … “The number 34 in Hebrew represents strength. Thank you, Doug, for 34 years of strengthening our community.”
But Doug would be quick to point out that this isn’t all about him. These honors and accolades truly reflect the importance, regard and esteem with which the community holds JCRC. We are a unique, consensus driven entity, serving the entirety of the organized Jewish community in the Bay Area. As the J Weekly’s editors wrote:
Over the decades, [Doug] and JCRC have been the Jewish community’s most stalwart advocates, standing up against anti-Semitism, anti-Israel activities on college campuses, repression of Soviet Jews and efforts to curb religious freedoms…. Founded in 1938 as the Jewish Survey Committee, dedicated to raising local awareness about the worsening plight of European Jewry, the San Francisco-based JCRC has over the years championed such universal issues as civil rights, fair housing and employment, equality in education, immigration rights and same-sex marriage, and has taken strong stands against nuclear proliferation, South African apartheid and domestic violence.
These accomplishments reflect the work of many people, working in tandem, with excellent leadership, another reason the Szyk prints seem such an appropriate and earned honor. The fact also that Szyk was only able to complete nine of the 59 visual histories he'd planned, reminds us that there is still so much work to do – something which Doug himself is also quick to point out, as well. We’ll leave you with a quote from an article Doug published last week in the J, which he describes as his final column as executive director:
It is through the exchange of ideas that we are not only able to develop a consensus approach that enables us to move forward as a community, but to hold the passionate center — harnessing the passions that come from the left and right into an effective community strategy. This is how JCRC has achieved its remarkable record of accomplishments since its founding more than 70 years ago; I am confident it will continue to do so.
As Abby Porth, my outstanding successor, becomes JCRC executive director next week, I will rest well knowing that JCRC will continue to serve on the front lines of community relations issues for our entire Jewish community.
Today, Thursday, June 30, is Rabbi Doug Kahn's last day as JCRC executive director. If you haven’t already, please honor Doug by contributing to the Doug Kahn Israel Outreach Travel Fund. Your generous contribution or endowed gift will enable JCRC to continue Doug's legacy of forging the enduring bonds of fellowship and goodwill for years to come. A huge thank you to everyone who has already contributed. For more information or to discuss making an endowed gift to the Travel Fund, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 415.977.7444.