Community Relations Council

of the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg

Standing with Israel

5/14/2021 The Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg and the Jewish Community Relations Council strongly support Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist organizations.   Israel and its citizens have the right to live in peace and security. We stand firmly with the people of Israel and the Israeli Defense Forces at this difficult time.  We mourn the loss of all innocent lives in this conflict and pray for a rapid return to civility and calm.


To provide humanitarian aid to Israel and visit JFNA here.


Updates on the conflict can be found here:



The Jewish Community of the Harrisburg area, represented by the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg, Community Relations Council of the Federation, and the Rabbinic Council of Greater Harrisburg, is shocked and horrified by the senseless, brutal murder of Mr. George Floyd of Minneapolis on Monday, May 25.  Exodus 20:13 simply states as the Fifth Commandment: “You shall not murder.”  All religious traditions of our society teach this simple but powerful message.  We learn this as children.  Why is it so hard for us to understand and apply this lesson in the 21st century?
We grieve with the family and friends of Mr. Floyd for this shocking incident and we stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with African-Americans in expressing our outrage at this example of police brutality.  Your loss is our loss.  Although a vast country of continental proportion, America has no room for the torture, murder, and barbarism that we have witnessed in Minneapolis.  All people of conscience, no matter their religion, politics, color, or background must condemn murder and we unequivocally do!
We are angered that African-Americans and other Americans of color continue to experience discrimination and inequality and are treated unjustly.  We are saddened that when they react to these inequities with legitimate, peaceful expressions of protest, their efforts are marred by counterproductive acts of violence that undermine the overall efforts of freedom and equality.
We plead for calm even as we urge our public leaders to engage in constructive dialogues and actions to build stronger relationships and deeper understanding among all of us as a path to a more just and equitable society.


CRC January 9, 2020 Statement on Antisemitism in America

Tragically, the Hanukah stabbings in Monsey, NY on December 28 were only the latest anti-Semitic acts against Jewish communities across the US.  The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) cataloged 1879 anti-Semitic occurrences in 2018*, ranging from desecration of synagogues and cemeteries to anti-Semitic insults to violent attacks resulting in injuries and death. The ADL reports that there have been incidents and crimes in every state.  Such attacks continued throughout 2019 and into 2020.We experience shock and pain after each killing, attack, desecration, slur and insult.  As Jews, Americans and humans, we are repulsed by targeted actions against any person based on religion, ethnicity, race or sexual orientation.
The intent of these attacks is clear.  The selection of targets is deliberate and intentional.  We unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms, condemn all acts of violence motivated by religious or ideological intolerance.   In this rising tide of reprehensible and cowardly acts, we must not become complacent or accept this as the “new normal.” We must challenge ourselves and others to recognize killing, violence, vandalism and intimidation by extremists as unconditionally wrongful conduct that threatens the very fabric of our society.

We urge all members of our Community to remain vigilant against all forms of violence, to build bridges of understanding within and beyond our Community and to speak out forcefully against intolerance and racism.  The promise of America is a shared vision of ideals, regardless of national origin, religion, race or sexual preference.  Anti-Semitism threatens our security and our way of life in America as well as that of every other affinity group. 

The words of German Lutheran Pastor Martin Niemoller after World War II still resonate today:

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me.
*The 2019 ADL report is not yet available.

iConnect (formerly CRC Israel Speakers Series)

Watch for information about our 2021 program soon.  This series is held in conjunction with our partners from the York JCC.  Here is a list of our past programs:

2020 Z3 Project 2020: Reimaging Diaspora-Israel Relations (hosted by the Oshman Family JCC) 

2019 Thou Shall Not Hate: Personal Stories from Survivors of Conflict and Terror 

2018  Dr. Eran Lerman

2017  Jonathan Tobin & JJ Goldberg
2016  Dennis Ross
Thank you to our 2019 Sponsors:
Platinum: Ed & Esther Beck
Gold: Jewish Community Foundation of Central Pennsylvania,  Market Square Presbyterian Church, and
Robert D. Brenner & Edward J. Brenner Philanthropic Fund
Silver: Marcia & Sandy Cohen, Peggy Grove, Jenn Ross, Ruby & Mark Schmidt, Marjorie Sherman, Allison & Bryan Siegelman, and Elliot & Sue Weinstein
Copper: Jonathan Brandow, Paulette Keifer, Mark & Neysa Maisel, F. Josh Millman, Shelly Page, and Viki Zarkin

The Community Relations Council (CRC) and Israeli Speakers Educational Endowment

The Community Relations Council (CRC) Israeli Speakers Educational Endowment of the Jewish Community Foundation of Central Pennsylvania was established in 2015 by Dr. Edward and Esther Beck and Dr. Gustav (z'l) and Rita Beck, to bring to Harrisburg and Central PA notable expert Israeli speakers representing the many different and diverse views and voices of a vital Israeli society to brief the Greater Harrisburg community on the many challenges facing Israel in this complex world. Speakers will be chosen by the CRC with the consent of the Board of  Directors of The Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg. 

It is hoped that enough funds could be raised to have at least two speakers per year in perpetuity and those interested in growing this important fund should contact Paulette Keifer.

Statement on Terrorist Attack on Muslim Worshippers in New Zealand

The Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Harrisburg express our deepest condolences to the local and global Muslim community.  We share the sentiments of our national association, Jewish Federations of North America: 

We are devastated by the senseless hate-filled terror attack targeting two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch. Our Jewish community mourns the tragic loss of 49 innocent lives. We know all too well the price of terrorism, racism, and hatred. No person should ever have to fear attending a sacred place of worship. The xenophobia that led to this unspeakable bloodshed must be condemned in no uncertain terms by leaders worldwide and the public-at-large. Hatred and vitriol must have no place to manifest. We cannot allow it to continue to violate the moral and ethical core of our society. 

In Harrisburg, the Muslim community was a source of strength to us after the senseless killings of 11 innocent worshippers at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. We stand in solidarity with the Muslim community now.

Greater Harrisburg CRC Overview: Under the leadership of Julie Wright Halbert, Esq., our region’s Community Relations Council (CRC) reemerged in 2015, and is currently co-chaired by Marty Brill and Keith Welks. Three committees address critical issues locally, nationally, and internationally: Communications (Chair Jeanette Krebs), Public Affairs (Co-Chairs Steve Loux and Alex Halper), and Interfaith/Intra/faith (Chair Rabbi Carl Choper). The CRC works with representatives from the Greater Harrisburg community to proactively and reactively deal with issues seeking guidance from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and input from our members. Every affiliated organization in the Greater Harrisburg community has a representative member of the CRC. For additional information about the Community Relations Council of the JFGH, please contact us at 717-236-9555.