HomeCherry Hill NewsJCRC of Southern NJ’s Middle East Institute conference has interfaith focus

JCRC of Southern NJ’s Middle East Institute conference has interfaith focus

Dumisani Washington to address Black synergy with Israel

Dumisani Washington is described as the “perfect ambassador” to convey a message of unity and shared history between the Black and Jewish communities.
(Special to The Sun)

The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of Southern New Jersey will hold its 54th annual Middle East Institute event at the Congregation Beth El in Voorhees on Sunday, March 12. 

“JCRC’s [of Southern New Jersey] annual Middle East Institute purpose is to help educate all community members, Jewish and non-Jewish, on why the United States and Israel are so vital and important to the safety and security of all Americans,” said David Snyder, chief advancement and community relations officer for the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey. 

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“This year’s keynote speaker, Dumisani Washington, is the perfect ambassador to convey a message of unity and shared history between the Black and Jewish community and why support for Israel is a value that can and should be supported by all who support freedom and democracy,” Snyder added.

Pastor Washington is a Christian, founder and CEO of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel (IBSI) and the author of “Zionism and the Black Church: Why Standing With Israel Will be   a Defining Issue for Christians of Color in the 21st century.” 

Washington first took a trip to Israel in 2012 as part of an African American pastors tour with the group Christians United with Israel. That inspired him to write his book and start his organization. He was a Christian from a young age and also raised to be proud of his African American heritage.

“I learned Black American history ‘at home,’ long before I got to school,” he recalled. 

“There was no victimization, I knew what my family went through … My parents, particularly my mother, didn’t talk about ‘them,’ she talked about ‘us’ (referring to Black history). About what we built, our institutions, our schools, our churches, our doctors, our lawyers. 

“So we’re very proud of that.”

Washington compared the struggles of Black Americans to those of Jewish descent, “who were supposed to be left in the dust.”

“Not only are we still here, but we kept having to thrive despite all the things that were placed before us,” he noted. “The book for me reinforced that – it reinforced where I come from.”

The pastor’s book also looks more closely at Black American History and how it relates to the history of Israel and Zionism.

“We talk about the history of Black people in America and I touch on Africa as well, of course,” he explained. “What is deeply embedded in that is spiritual Zionism. Literally, we’re on the plantations singing songs like, ‘Go down Moses’ and ‘Joshua and the Battle of Jericho.’” 

In addition to Washington’s talk, the JCRC will also present two awards. The JCRC Israel Advocacy Award will go to Cherry Hill resident Rabbi Aaron Krupnick, who has been with Congregation Beth El for 28 years and served as past president of the Tri County Board of Rabbis of South Jersey and the Philadelphia Region of the Rabbinical Assembly. 

This year’s JCRC Next Gen Israel Advocacy Award will be presented to Kyle Lehrfeld, a junior at Cherry Hill East who serves as South Jersey’s Regional Moreh of BBYO and has received an award from the township school district for completing 1,000 hours of community service in one academic year, according to his biography.

The JCRC of Southern New Jersey’s 54th Middle East Institute event will begin at 7 p.m. and there will be a VIP and sponsor reception at 5:30. Tickets are $36 for general admission and $25 for current-year JCRC patrons and JCRC Life and Legacy Members. 

Students can attend at no charge. For registration or more information about the speakers or the event, visit https://www.jcrcsnj.org/mei23. To sponsor the event, visit https://www.jcrcsnj.org/antisemitismawareness/become-a-sponsor-join-jcrc-of-snj-at-our-54th-annual-middle-east-institute

This article was updated on Feb. 27, 2023.


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