Creating a civil and caring community

“You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it”
Pirket Avot – Ethics of our Community (2:21)

Jewish Community Relations Council’s (JCRC) Jewish values propel us to work towards building a shared society for all –chiseling away at social justice issues, combating hate and antisemitism and building solid friendships with our neighbors.

Vision


The Jewish Community Relations Council inspired by Jewish values seeks to sustain a more civil and caring community in Western New York and around the world.

Mission


As the representative body of the Buffalo Jewish community, we will:

  • Build meaningful and collaborative relationships with other faith, ethnic, and cultural communities toward the goal of building a more civil society.
  • Be visible and vocal in the greater community during times of crisis and on vital social issues.
  • Be actively involved in key issues impacting the Jewish community.  Educate and advocate on all those issues, seeking consensus based on core Jewish values.

Values


Respecting all viewpoints and with concern for social justice, we will build our collective voice based on the following core Jewish values:

Community Relations - Understanding
Darchei Shalom

Paths of peace. Keeping peace through ongoing inter-group relations, promoting mutual respect, and fostering understanding within our community.

Community Relations - worlds
Tikkun Olam
Repair the world. Making the world a better place for all people.
Community Relations - Voice
Lo Ta’amod Al Dam Rey’echa
Do not stand idly by. Making our voice heard on issues of vital importance to the Jewish community and the communities in which Jews live.
Community Relations - Refuge
Ger Hayiti B’Eretz Nachriyah
I was a stranger in a strange land. Caring for the immigrant and the stranger, welcoming those who seek refuge in our community.

Meet the Team


Mara Koven-Gelman

Mara Koven-Gelman

Director

(she/her)

Mara was previously the executive director of the Holocaust Resource Center of Buffalo, and has a background in Jewish communal work and journalism. One of her most treasured parts of the JCRC is facilitating the Multicultural Women’s Group. Born in Montreal, she lived and worked in Toronto for 20 years in various non-profit management roles. Together with her husband Irwin Gelman, they have four children.

Rachel Beerman

Rachel Beerman

Racial Justice Coordinator

(she/her)

Rachel is a curriculum designer for Buffalo Commons Charter School, which opens in 2022 for kindergarten and first grade students. She has spent her professional life working in education from preschool all the way through college settings, and she has a special love for teaching U.S. history to middle schoolers. Rachel strongly believes in the work of JCRC to help make Western New York and the world a more caring and civil place. She lives in Buffalo with her husband and two young children, and in her spare time, loves to read, go on hikes with her family and explore local historical sites.

Rabbi Alex-Lazarus Klein

Rabbi Alex-Lazarus Klein

Rabbinic Consultant

(he/him)

Rabbi Alex Lazarus-Klein came to Buffalo in 2008 to serve as the rabbi of Temple Sinai, now called Congregation Shir Shalom. He brings warmth, creativity, and compassion to the role of synagogue rabbi. A trained chaplain and gifted teacher, he is actively engaged in all aspects of communal life As JCRC’s rabbinic consultant, he links the Jewish community to other faiths, speaking at intergroup events and offering planning support. He works with leaders of all faiths, to improve the quality of life in Western New York and beyond. He lives in Amherst, with his wife and three children.

Sam Lukin Johnson

Sam Lukin Johnson

Student Intern

(he/him)

Sam is currently a junior at Amherst Central High School. In school, he is very involved in the music department, playing viola in the Symphony Orchestra and the extracurricular orchestra, Sinfonia. He is the president of the quiz bowl club at Amherst and went to the National History Bowl competition in Washington D.C. as a sophomore. As an active member of Amherst High School’s Spanish club, Sam was inducted into the Spanish Honors Society. Outside of school, he is a member of the Amherst Youth Consortium and the principal violist in the Greater Buffalo Youth Orchestra.

Executive committee


  • Deborah Goldman, Co-Chair
  • Adam Fogel, Co-Chair
  • Corey Auerbach
  • Lana Benatovich
  • Sharla Bleichfeld
  • Ann Marie Carosella
  • Molly Carr
  • Susan Grelick
  • Harvey Sanders

Upcoming Events


Find us on Facebook @BuffaloJCRC
Community Relations - BJSC 2C e1516157234402

Buffalo Jewish Service Corps


Federation, in partnership with the American Red Cross, supports the Buffalo Jewish Services Corps (BJSC), a Jewish response team that is at the ready to respond to local emergencies as an adjunct for Red Cross and other organizations. BJSC members have received basic Red Cross training such as Sheltering and Psychological First Aid. The Corps is always looking for new team members. Please contact Federation’s office to learn more about how you can be a part of BJSC.