Issue 1

April 2021

Welcome to The Activist

Part of the challenge of COVID-19 is the constant state of uncertainty. As society moves toward herd immunity, we are coming through to the other side with an even greater appreciation for the food on our tables, the roof over our heads and the health of our loved ones. Not lost on us is the tremendous opportunity we have to serve you — the Jewish community and the Miami-Dade community at large — through the work of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation's JCRC every single day.

You may notice that in addition to articles highlighting our engagement with elected officials, combating anti-Semitism, creating partnerships with diverse communities and acquiring critical security funding, The Activist has a new look. This is part of our concerted effort to broaden the reach of the JCRC, so that we both continue to strengthen our already thriving, vibrant Jewish community in Miami-Dade County, Israel and around the world, and ensure our region remains a welcoming, inclusive community for all who live, work and vacation here.

We hope you enjoy The Activist’s new format and we would very much appreciate your feedback on our newsletter or on any other JCRC-related issues at We look forward to seeing you as soon as we are able to convene safely in person.


Tracey Spiegelman
JCRC Chair

Josh Sayles
JCRC Director

Virtual Washington, D.C. Advocacy Mission

In February, the JCRC held a Virtual Advocacy Mission to Washington, D.C. Chaired by Mojdeh Khaghan Danial, and with JCRC Chair Tracey Spiegelman and Federation Board Member Jonathan Awner assuming leadership roles, we lobbied six members of Congress and the White House on some of the most pressing issues in the Jewish community. We spoke with Representatives Ted Deutch (D), Mario Diaz-Balart (R), Carlos Gimenez (R), Maria Salazar (R), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D) and Frederica Wilson (D), as well as Josh Dickson of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Topics included combating anti-Semitism, supporting Israel, delivering COVID-19 relief, ensuring the care of Holocaust Survivors and bolstering community security. Between 40-100 community members attended each meeting, and we continue to have follow-up conversations as we work to increase federal funding for the Holocaust Survivors Assistance Program and Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

JCRC Connects With Former Miami Heat Player Meyers Leonard

The JCRC is committed to fighting anti-Semitism wherever and whenever it occurs. Recently, a former member of the Miami Heat, Meyers Leonard, made an anti-Semitic remark while livestreaming a video game on the social media app Twitch. We issued a statement condemning the remark, spoke to the Miami Herald and engaged with Leonard on a series of educational initiatives to help him understand the gravity of his actions. As a part of that outreach, we have been introducing him to diverse Jewish community leadership throughout Miami-Dade County to help educate him on who we are as a people. Leonard has expressed contrition and we hope he will use his platform as an NBA player and elite video-gamer to speak out against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate and bigotry.

JCRC Helps Secure Federal Security Funding

Applications for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) opened in February and the JCRC once again assisted Jewish institutions across Miami-Dade County as they applied for up to $150,000 in security grants. The JCRC released a dozen memos with guidance and technical support, held a webinar to provide an overview of the grant, reviewed applications and answered questions to help Jewish organizations receive capital to build infrastructure that keeps our community safe and secure. Since the program’s inception, with the JCRC’s assistance, Miami-Dade Jewish institutions have received more than $12 million. Federation has been among the recipients of a number of NSGP grants over the past 15 years that have helped enhance security at local properties.

Teens Advocating Together

Teens Advocating Together, a JCRC program in collaboration with the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP, recently concluded its second year. After months of working with experts on topics such as leadership, identity and advocacy, 15 Black and Jewish teenagers met with elected officials in the Florida Statehouse for two afternoons of virtual meetings. They advocated for gun violence prevention, community policing and mental health services and received commitments from elected officials to co-sponsor legislation on these matters. It was a powerful experience for the teens, who developed critical leadership skills over the course of the year as they learned how to more effectively build bridges and speak on behalf of those who may not be able. “Participating in Teens Advocating Together presented an invaluable opportunity to cooperate with like-minded peers who I otherwise never would have met,” says Carlos Gamboa, a senior at Riviera Preparatory School and a member of Beth David Congregation. “Speaking directly with state legislators gave me firsthand experience with the political process and insight into how to most effectively express my concerns to lawmakers.”

Human Trafficking Soap Campaign

The JCRC continues to partner with Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy Department and Jewish Volunteer Center to raise awareness of human trafficking and fight this scourge together. Over the past four months, dozens of volunteers have learned more about the depravity surrounding this issue. They heard presentations from the JCRC on the prevalence of human trafficking, learned how to spot signs and acted to combat it. They placed labels with human trafficking hotline numbers onto 6,000 bars of soap, which will soon be distributed throughout the community by local agencies, getting this call for help to people who need it the most.

Community Outreach –
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

On Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the JCRC again took part in J-Serve, alongside our partners at Federation’s Jewish Volunteer Center and the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP. More than 150 teens from across Miami-Dade County heard Rabbi Ethan Bair of Temple Beth Sholom, State Senator Shevrin Jones and NAACP President Daniella Pierre channel the words and values of Dr. King and inspire them to action. They engaged in conversations on racial justice and completed volunteer projects, such as labeling soaps to fight human trafficking and making sandwiches for individuals served by the Miami Rescue Mission.

JCRC Participates in Jewish Disability Advocacy Month

The JCRC participated in Jewish Disability Advocacy Month with our partners at The Jewish Federations of North America. In February we co-sponsored with the Miami Jewish Abilities Alliance, Advocating for the Rights of People of All Abilities. Sabrina Cohen, Founder of the Sabrina Cohen Foundation, and Deborah Dietz, Executive Director and a Founder of Disability Independence Group, spoke about their personal stories and advocacy work, the Americans for Disabilities Act and how all of us can make a difference in the community.

The Mission of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) is to educate, engage and mobilize the Jewish community in pursuit of social justice on a broad range of local, national and international issues, including Israel, anti-Semitism, civil rights and civil liberties. It functions as a consensus-seeking body and advocates on behalf of Jewish community interests to representatives of other community organizations, to government officials and to the media. The JCRC helps to maximize government dollars available for programs and services operated by Federation beneficiary agencies and promotes social policies that enhance the quality of life for all people.