Jewish communities overall, and the Jewish War Veterans in particular, have a point of view on a variety of issues that need to be interpreted by both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. The method of interpretation of our concerns is what community relations are all about.
On a national level, JWV is a member of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), a community relations coordinating body with a membership of 14 national Jewish organizations (including JWV) and 125 local independent partner agencies. JCPA is a mechanism through which participants evaluate developments of concern to the Jewish community, form guidelines for appropriate action, and plan how to deal with those concerns most effectively.
Each year, based on continuing discussion and consultation, culminating in the annual National Plenary Session of JCPA, a Joint Program Plan is published consisting of guidelines, recommendations and analyses of issues of Jewish communal concern. These include issues and recommendations dealing with the interpretation of Israel's positions and needs; freedom for Soviet Jews and other oppressed Jewish communities; promotion of equal opportunity in the United States; freedom of religion and the separation of church and state; and amicable relationships among all groups.
The Jewish War Veterans are represented on all levels of JCPA, and contributes extensively to its discussions, deliberations, and recommendations. As a national agency, based in Washington, D.C., representing the Jewish veteran community, and as "the patriotic voice of American Jewry," Jewish War Veterans, on both the national and local levels, is in a unique position to contribute to the Jewish community relations process.
Jewish Community Relations on the Local Level
JWV is in a unique position to contribute to the community relations process, specifically, through access and contact with other veterans' organizations in your community, such as VFW, American Legion, AMVETS, DAV, Catholic War Veterans, and others.
The combined strength of the veterans' community is substantial. The influence of veterans’ groups on policies of local, state, national, Administration officials, and legislators at all levels cannot be discounted. The Jewish community needs good relationships with these organizations and individuals to show that issues, which may be of Jewish concern, should also be the concern of the rest of America. JWV is able to influence and cooperate with the veterans' community. Therefore, the cultivation of relationships is essential in order for the other veterans' organizations to appreciate the alliance and cooperation with JWV for their own concerns.
Take a Commander to Lunch
Become familiar with Commanders of other veterans' organizations and their agendas of concern through informal, non-emergency contact. At the same time, familiarize them with JWV and your Post's activities. Cooperate on issues and programs of concern to the other organizations that are not contrary to JWV policy. The other organizations understand that occasionally disagreements arise. Nevertheless, friends, in an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect, can "agree to disagree" without it affecting the relationship. In areas of agreement, work together. Build on your personal relationships with the Commanders of other veterans’ organizations, and also with your respective Posts. You will find that, through these ongoing cooperative relationships and educational efforts, calling on the veterans’ community in times of crisis affecting the Jewish community will be easier.
Give the Commanders JWV Materials That Will Give Them a Better Understanding of the Organization
Such materials include The Jewish Veteran, brochures, and videos available through National Headquarters. You may wish to suggest to the Commanders that some of these materials be distributed to his or her members and that you would be pleased to provide him or her with copies.
Conduct Joint Programming
To further the relationships you are building with the Commanders of other local organizations, you may wish to organize joint programs with your respective Posts. These programs may take many different forms, such as:
- Reciprocal talks at a Post meeting. You invite him or her to speak at your Post meeting and he or she reciprocates.
- A combined Post program with a speaker or panel discussing an issue or issues of mutual interest. This can be with one other veterans’ organization or with a group of veterans’ organizations. A breakfast might be the most suitable milieu for this type of program.
- A combined Post dinner honoring an agreed upon individual or individuals. An idea for honorees could be the VAVS representative of each veterans' organizations.
- A combined effort in planning for a program at your local VA Medical Center.
- A joint effort in the planning of special events, i.e., Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Brotherhood Week, etc.
Do Not Separate Yourself From Your Community
In the same way that the National Office of JWV is a part of JCPA, JWV Posts should be members and an active part of the local Jewish Community Relations Council, which purport to speak for the Jewish community in your area on issues of concern. As a part of that community, JWV should be active in the discussions, deliberations, recommendations, and programs of the local JCRC.
Relations should be developed with the JCRC President and Executive Director. You should share agendas of concern and activities and develop ways in which JWV can be involved in committee deliberations and program planning.
Similarly, your Post should involve itself in the work of the United Jewish Appeal-Federation campaign in your community. The UJA-Federation campaign is the Jewish community effort to raise funds for humanitarian services in Israel; the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), which provides for Jews in many lands; and local community needs including Jewish nursing homes, family services, vocational agencies, community councils, etc. In addition, in many communities, they allocate a part of the funds risen in the campaign to national agencies, including the Jewish War Veterans. Higher visibility of your Post members in the campaign could be helpful to JWV.
Just as important, JWV activity with community campaigns and community relations activities will make JWV an integral part of the community, and also create higher visibility for your Post.