Jewish Community Relations Councilof San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties

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To Find Community Consensus JCRC Launches Town Halls

September 10, 2015
Posted by: Jessica Trubowitch, Public Policy and Community Building Director

Following the implementation of the Strategic Plan, consensus building remains a cornerstone of JCRC. After all, it is through convening our community and finding the consensus on pertinent public policy issues that we are able to be effective and unified in advocating for our community’s interests. To this end we will be introducing a new deliberative body, the Assembly, and new consensus gathering techniques, including Town Hall meetings. With these changes JCRC aims to increase participation by its member organizations (importantly, JCRC also intends to increase membership overall by adding new organizations). Our consensus building will benefit from having a larger pool of representatives and expanded options for member participation.

The Town Hall meetings – an entirely new format built from new strategies and technology for communications and polling – will now be one of the main ways JCRC reaches out into the community. The meetings, to be held several times per year throughout all of the counties that JCRC serves, will result in data that can be analyzed by staff and then brought back to the Assembly. These Town Halls will provide an opportunity for JCRC members and members of JCRC member organizations to engage in our consensus-building process. At the Town Halls, JCRC will bring top-level experts – the people you’ve loved to listen to and learn from at our meetings and regional events – to discuss the most pertinent issues. Jewish scholars will speak about our community’s rich tradition and thinking on these subjects. Technological tools will be used for live polling so that everyone in the room can provide their feedback on the ideas being generated that are most resonant with them.

Eventually, a Town Hall Workgroup will also be convened in various geographical regions. Workgroup participants will work with the staff to plan Town Hall meetings in their area, recruit members of JCRC organizations to attend and assist in the development of questions for live polling at the Town Halls, as well as help gather responses to polling surveys. The Workgroups will also help analyze the data and prepare summary reports that will be used by Public Policy Committee and the Assembly in the consensus building process.

The Assembly, where every member will be empowered with a voice and a vote, will act as the forum to vote on all final consensus statements. Since we only develop one consensus statement every 12-18 months, Assembly meetings will be held four times per year. The first Assembly meeting is going to be this November.

These two new formats will join our steadfast tradition of a long in-depth study process of the issues by our Public Policy Committee, which learns from experts about the issue at hand and studies multiple Jewish traditions before recommending a draft consensus policy statement to the Assembly.

We need help from the current (and prospective!) JCRC members excited about consensus building. If you’re interested in getting involved, please contact me.