JCRC: Jewish Community Relations Council
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JCRC History
The 1940s: History of the JCRC
  • June 1943 - Under the auspices of the United Jewish Committee of San Francisco Against Nazi Extermination of Jews & Other Minorities, the Jewish Survey Committee is instrumental in organizing a mass meeting on European Jewry at Civic Auditorium. Thousands come to hear Thomas Mann, Nobel Prize winning author, Eddie Cantor, famous film star, Isaac Stern, world famous San Francisco-raised violinist, and other notable individuals speak and perform.

  • July 1943 - the Jewish Survey Committee and the B'nai B'rith Committee merge in San Francisco, forming one staff and policy-making committee under the banner Jewish Survey & B'nai B'rith Community Committee. The Emanu-El and Jewish Journal, the predecessor of the Jewish Community Bulletin, commends the merger, stating "these are progressive steps towards the principle of unity, economy of operation, and conservation of manpower. There is no ceiling on the Jewish question that confronts American Jews, not only as trustees of those whose affliction abroad knows no parallel, but as guardians of their own destiny at a time when racial tensions have reached a most ominous stage. The genius of all leadership in a world of violence, ferment and chaos, is not to divide strength but to fulfill a common task of the first order."

  • 1944 - The National Community Relations Advisory Council (NCRAC) is formed as an umbrella organization to create national community cohesion and a unified advocacy effort. San Francisco JCRC is among twelve founding JCRCs.

  • February 1946 - A small group called the Joint Zionist Council pickets the British Consulate on Sansome Street in SF, in protest of the British government's refusal to allow Jewish refugees to enter Palestine. Attempting to distance itself not from the political perspectives, but from the group's public protest, the Jewish Survey & B'nai B'rith Community Committee issues a letter to the British Consulate objecting to the picket. The Jewish Community Bulletin runs the Survey Committee letter and an angry response to it from the Joint Zionist Council, as well as a detailed article from the Survey Committee explaining the importance of advocating for communal interest in a manner that promotes good public relations.

  • December 1947 - The Survey Committee investigates reports of an 18-year-old anti-Semitic activist in SF. A few weeks later, Temple Beth Sholom is desecrated for the third time with anti-Semitic graffiti painted on its walls. Rabbi Saul White reports the incident to the Survey Committee. The graffiti matches the rhetoric used by the youth allegedly mobilizing anti-Semites in San Francisco, leading the Survey Committee to hire an investigator to find the perpetrator. Simultaneously, the Survey Committee works with the SF Police Department and the FBI in its own investigations. Chief Charles Dullea promises "manifestations of prejudice will not be tolerated in San Francisco."

  • January 1947 - The perpetrator of the Beth Sholom attacks is found by the Survey Committee's investigator, and confesses to law enforcement his crime. A minor, he is spared a jail sentence, law enforcement provides a stern lecture on his activity as "un-American," and demands he meet with a social worker.

  • February 1947 - the Survey Committee holds the first of what becomes a staple JCRC program: an educational training institute for Jewish community leaders on pressing issues of the day. The Institute on Current Jewish Problems & Public Relations is offered to representatives of every local Jewish organization to "acquaint leaders of the various groups with current trends in anti-Semitism at home and abroad, and to equip them to answer informatively and factually the charges and myths spread by anti-Semites." The Survey Committee urges that "intelligent and accurate information is needed by our people to meet the charges, innuendoes and canards spread by bigots. An institute conducted by recognized specialists in the field of fighting bigotry is the instrument by which such information can be made available."

  • 1947 - The Survey Committee investigates complaints of race, nationality, and creed-based employment discrimination, and advocates for fair employment practice legislation at the state and federal levels. It explains it "has realized that it must combat without reservation the un-American policies of employers who bar applicants not on a basis of qualifications but because of their race, creed, or nationality....[We have] long has understood that [we have] another obligation to defend employers unjustly accused of discriminatory policies; employers against whom such charges were leveled because of misunderstandings or idle rumors."

  • September 1948 - The Survey Committee organizes an intergenerational Committee on Youth Activities, which designs and conducts a Forum for Jewish Youth at the JCC. The Forum acquaints "high school Jewish youth with the facts of anti-Semitism as it exists today and [equips] them to meet intelligently the charges of our enemies."

  • 1948 - San Francisco realtors devise methods to circumvent a United States Supreme Court ruling outlawing restrictive covenants - agreements barring people from ownership or tenancy of property based on religion, race, or nationality. The Survey Committee organizes a multi-ethnic and multi-faith coalition that "stresses the un-American aspects of restrictive covenants" so that "people everywhere [will] be alerted to the injustices and dangers of housing discrimination and warned against such practices."

  • The war of independence in Palestine and the creation of the State of Israel lead to a crescendo in Jewish Bay Area politics around Zionism. Many Bay Area Jews are deeply moved by Zionism and the quest for a return to the Jewish homeland in Israel, while many deeply fear that public support for Israel is un-American and the perception of dual loyalty will cause anti-Semitic attacks on the local Jewish population.

  • Eugene Block works with other ethnic and faith leaders to create the Council for Civic Unity. Ed Howden is named Director. This is one of the first coalitions organized by JCRC's predecessor. The group works for racial equality and interethnic harmony through equal and fair housing, employment, and education advocacy.

Jewish Community Relations Council    121 Steuart Street, Suite 301, San Francisco, CA 94105

phone: 415.957.1551    fax: 415.979.0981    info@jcrc.org

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JCRC is a beneficiary agency of the San Francisco-based Jewish Community Federation and the Jewish Federation of the East Bay.
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