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

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Bear a Torch

..."Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

-- Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus

Be a Torchbearer for Liberty

JCRC's "Bear a Torch" campaign shines a light on the people and groups in our community who have stood for the consensus positions that we together strive to uphold as we work with our allies for pluralism and justice. We hope that these profiles will help the torchbearers in our community whose inspiring work assures a just society and a secure Jewish future, and we hope to inspire all of you to come together to welcome the stranger, cherish your neighbors, resist hate, re-imagine our communal role and, perhaps, reinvent yourselves as advocates, allies and bridge builders.


Torchbearer 1: Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay

In recent weeks, the local immigrant and refugee community is facing fears of deportation, hate crimes, families divided and of being ostracized or imprisoned. Pediatricians and clinics serving immigrants and low-income patients report rising anxiety and panic attacks among even very young patients. At the same time, the world is reeling from a refugee crisis of historic proportions. There is need at home to help quell the fears and more need than ever to ‘welcome the stranger’ to our shores. That’s why the first torchbearer in our Bear a Torch campaign is Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay.

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Torchbearer 2: Exhale

This week's torchbearer, Exhale, is the nation’s premiere organization addressing the emotional health and wellbeing of women and men after abortion. Using pro-voice approaches and tools to support women like Debbie, the group works to create space for women – and men – to share their personal abortion stories. A community-led organization, Exhale is at the forefront of creating the cultural and attitudinal shift that JCRC sees as critical to assure that the issue of reproductive choice and abortion is treated with the utmost sensitivity and dignity. In our consensus statement, “JCRC Guidelines on Reproductive Rights,” we strongly affirm the right of every woman to be able to make that decision without the imposition of the government or any other party.

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Torchbearer 3: Jewish Coalition for Literacy

The Jewish Coalition for Literacy (JCL) is dedicated to eliminating childhood illiteracy by mobilizing tutors, engaging parents and expanding home libraries to help underserved public school children throughout the Bay Area. Inspired by Jewish values of social justice, JCL works in TITLE I schools with large numbers of English Learner students, where most students qualify for free or reduced price lunches and underperform on state tests. Help JCL realize a society where all children can read and are inspired to reach their full potential: Give one hour a week, and change a child’s life forever!

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Shalom Bayit

Torchbearer 4: Shalom Bayit

Shalom Bayit is the Bay Area’s center for domestic violence prevention and response within the Jewish community. Its team works to promote peaceful homes and families, to teach skills for healthy relationships, and to build a safe, vibrant Jewish community that is free from violence and abuse. If you're being hurt by someone you love or know someone in an unhealthy relationship, don't accept silence: Call (866) SHALOM-7 for free, confidential support.

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Equality California

Torchbearer 5: Equality California

Equality California (EQCA) is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Its mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. EQCA strives to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities.

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Torchbearer 6: Invest in Peace

Invest in Peace is a coalition of Bay Area community leaders, business owners, officials and activists promoting people-to-people partnerships among Israelis and Palestinians as a way to move toward two states living side-by-side in peace. The Invest in Peace community believes in a two-state solution with an independent, autonomous and economically viable Palestinian state living side-by-side with a democratic, Jewish state of Israel.

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Torchbearer 7: Muslim Advocates

Muslim Advocates is the national legal advocacy and educational organization working on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths. Through high impact lawsuits, policy advocacy, and community education, Muslim Advocates serves as a resource to empower communities and ensures that the American Muslim community is heard by the courts and leaders at the highest level of government.

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Kindle the taper like the steadfast star
Ablaze on evening's forehead o'er the earth,
And add each night a lustre till afar
An eightfold splendor shine above thy hearth.

--Emma Lazarus, The Feast of Lights