By Stacey Dresner
WESTERN MASS. – Last month at JCPA2016 – formerly known as the Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ annual Plenum — Carin Savel of Longmeadow, chair of the Jewish Community Relations Committee (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Western Mass., was installed on the JCPA board.
The mission of the JCPA, the public affairs arm of the organized American Jewish community, is to “lead, support, shape, coordinate and represent the Jewish community relations movement in order to advance the interests of the Jewish people, support Israel’s quest for peace and security, and promote a just American society and world.”
Last month Savel attended JCPA2016 in Cleveland, Ohio, her first time at the organization’s annual meeting.
“I went out to Cleveland with no expectations and it was an absolutely inspiring three days,” she said. “I went to several sessions where they talked about everything from BDS to religious plurality, and it was pretty enlightening.”
Other issues that were discussed with civil rights, voting rights, and the environment.
Savel co-led a session titled “Kosher Pork”. “It is about how you lobby and how you get your issues across and how you actually work with the state government or the national government – talking to your congressman or senators,” she explained.
Savel, who moved to Western Mass. 2 ½ years ago, instantly became involved in the JCRC in Western Mass.
“I had a government relations background and they asked if I would be interested in ‘rebooting’ the JCRC and I was delighted. I couldn’t wait to do it. Immediately there were issues that came up. Locally, in the state and globally.”
Savel came on the radar screen of the JCPA in January, when as the chair of the Western Mass. JCRC she went on the JCPS’s Leadership Mission to Israel.
“I really enjoyed it. It wasn’t sight-seeing, it was mostly dealing with Arab-Israeli relations and Israel-American relations,” she said. “It was really eye-opening. And when I came back they asked me if I would consider coming on the board. I didn’t hesitate. I think they do great work.”
In Western Mass., Savel and the JCRC are working on developing a local platform of issues.
“BDS will be on there. We are still one of the only states in the country that has not passed actual state-wide BDS legislation,” Savel said.
She said they want to start working more with local college students on issues that they are concerned with, such as BDS, civil rights, voting rights, and the environment.
“We started with a toe in the water and now we’re swimming,” Savel said.
CAP: Carin Savel at the JCPA2016 workshop she helped lead with Howie Beigelman, executive director of Ohio Jewish Communities.