good morning, and welcome to mosaic and i am tran18, and i am your host this morning. were please this morning to introduce you to our rabbi, the executive director of the religious relations council, and he is about to retire, and we thought we would take this occasion to reflect on your service to the community and the extraordinary work of the jc rc in the bay area. and welcome, rabbi.>> i am honored to be here.>> and what
does the jewish community relations council do?>> the truth is that the jc rc is the umbrella body for the organized jewish community in the bay area, representing the jewish community on the vitally important public affairs issues, domestic and international, ranging from israel to the civil rights, anti-semitism and quality public education. we started just after the holocaust windy american jewish community realized the absence of the body, a fatal flaw in the jewish community, and we should not be in a position where we cannot bring together a full range of voices within the jewish community so that we can advocate effectively on the
issues.>> in a moment, we will get to what drew you to dedicate your life to the organization, and it seems natural to ask at this point, what is the role of the faith- based structure in the civic life of the community, especially when you have a country that values separation of church and state, and we are always struggling with the civic issues. for in constant with the values.>> we as well, jc rc, also values the religion separation of church and state. and having a voice that values space, that brings to bear the key issues of the day, historical and the value lands is -- lens, it is extremely
important because we have had a history around the civil rights and discrimination, and so many other important issues in society where we have something to contribute. this allows us to bring out the lens to the universal sets of issues that can benefit the society as a whole. >> we see your passion, and it already gives voice to what drew you to the jc rc. what drew you to the jewish community relations council? >> the first he is, i make fourth generation san francisco and. -- franciscan, and my great- grandfather came to the bay area in 1870 as a rabbi, deeply immersed in the jewish
community. but equally importantly, i'm a product of the 60s, and i attended uc berkeley, and there were four issues of transformational impact. two were universal, civil rights in the anti-vietnam war movement. i was drawn to that, and those that were futuristic, israel and the aftermath of the six- day war, and the engagement of america with israel in that era, and i cut my teeth as an activist in the soviet jewish movement. i did not want to pick were other to be involved in the universal issues or the particular issues that would exclude the involvement in the broader societal issues, i wanted to be involved in both. being at the jc rc has allowed me to continue that passion.
i move back and forth between the universal and particular aesthetic issues throughout the community. >> and you are a bit of a harbinger on the life of the clarity, and you did not go into the pulpit, and you have spent your service in the community running disorganization and defining the action in that way. at the time, was that part of your thinking, or was it that you did not want to be put into a certain box, so to speak, by being in one place at one time? >> it is a great question, but the truth of the matter is that i have an undying admiration for my colleagues that are superb and the pastoral role. i saw myself more called to a
community-based role, i am consensus minded, a natural fit for the organization like the jc or see -- jc rc. i believe in pulling the sides together. in addition, i grew up in that period of the 60s where there was and increasing self- consciousness of being motivated by the jewish values in the advocacy work, but not necessarily knowing enough about the sources. i went to the rabbinical school, not to be at pulpit rabbi, but the authenticity of me speaking to the voice of the jewish values, and that is what drove me to the work that i do. we will take a quick break, and turn to the mosaic in just one moment .
good morning and welcome back to mosaic, and i am rabbi eric weiss, and we have a wonderful and dynamic conversation with rabbi doug kahn, the executive director of the jewish community relations council, and in honor of his retirement from the jewish relations council, and we open up with a beautiful picture of you at the rally, and what was that picture? >> that was a human rights rally with the interface leaders and san francisco, jc rc has been concerned about the international human rights abuse. it is what it meant for the world to be silent during the holocaust, and feeling that when other genocides are massive civil rights issues are perpetrated, whether in bosnia and kosovo, we have an obligation to speak out.
>> over the course of your tenure at the jc rc, what are some of the highlights for how you have seen the civic engagement in the community?>> that is a good word, highlights, and i will tell you a few that stand out. one is being so involved in the soviet movement, to free the soviet jewish people, and rallies weekly in front of the soviet -- consulate in san francisco. the soviet jewish movement, during the rally in front of the soviet consulate, watching a free man for someone that we have fought for his freedom for years, at that site on greenstreet, an unforgettable image.>> as i listened to you, i realize we live in such a
dynamic community were social action at all levels is an intrinsic civic value, but yet we do not always know our own history. i wonder if you could take a moment to let the folks know what the soviet movement was. the soviet jewry movement began before the six- day war, and it was the six-day war in 1967 that really triggered a renewed and bold movement on the part of the soviet juice -- jews to emigrate from the soviet union, and something finally happen for good in the glass notes era and 1889, but for decades it required a constant public demonstration protesting the
treatment of soviet juice -- jews by the soviet government. they tried to eliminate the jewish lives, and imprisoned active jewish members, and when the active leader was free, it was a moment for the soviet jewish movement, but it required thousands of people in this community, other communities that were consistently dedicated to putting this issue in the public eye, and embarrassing the soviet government to the point where they realized, and as a result, millions of soviet jews were allowed to leave the soviet union. >> for the jewish community and religious community at-large, an issue of immigration and an error where there was not a consensus, and all of the things we have learned and forgotten about, what it means
to rally on behalf of the immigration at-large. >> right, and that is why this is such an important issue for our community. going back to the holocaust, when the doors were closed to the jews from europe and had they been allowed in, they would have been saved from the hitler death camps. we've always been sensitive to what it means to be allowed to immigrate, to have a liberal immigration policy. it is steeped in our tradition as a safe tradition that believes in welcoming a stranger, and also in our history, natural for us to be engaged in this kind of issue. we continue to be engaged issues of immigration reform today. a quick rate, and we will continue our information about rabbi doug kahn and join us back here on mosaic in just a moment.
good morning and welcome back to mosaic, and i am rabbi eric weiss and we opened up with a picture for human rights brought to you by our guest, rabbi doug kahn, the executive director of the jewish relations council, retiring and reflecting on his lifetime service for the jewish council, and welcome back rabbi. other highlights that you have had with the jewish community relations council.>> there are so many, but one is that we worked closely for many years with the holocaust survivors. in the last few years, there have been more and more that have passed away because we are
now so much further away from the holocaust. but in 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps, we decided to try to find the liberators of the camps, and we hope to find a dozen in the bay area, and we found 120, and we honor them at a ceremony. the survivors created a metal -- medal, that they put around the necks of those people that up liberated them in some cases from the camp's, an extraordinary moment in our community history. and the privilege of working with the survivors was a highlight in my career at jc rc. another highlight, over the past 25 years, i have been able to go to the israel with major non-jewish leaders, ethnic leaders and nonprofit leaders, and the privilege of seeing
israel through their eyes annually has been a tremendous highlight. >> who are some of the local leaders that have been on the trip? >> i cannot remember some, but the attorney general harris, many members of congress in the bay area have gone, assembly member david chu, and members of the board of supervisors have gone with us. and carmen chu, the city assessor, the city treasurer, many public officials. university presidents, and other top leaders in the community as well. to spend eight or nine days with them on the ground in israel, and in oakland, and to see it through their eyes is an extraordinary privilege. >> this is an extraordinary program offered through the public service life of the
community. what are some of the changes you have seen in the manner in which we collectively engage in important issues? you've used an interesting term, nuance impactful, and there was a third word that you used.>> the activism. active activism. >> a very dynamic word. >> that suggest one of the changes, which is over the years there have been more and more single issue organization formed. we are a multi-issue organization, consensus in the multi-issue in this era of increased polarization, and increased single issue locus. -- focus. in a sense, we are a throwback. i would argue that precise to because the polarization and the range of the issues that our community is worried about, our work is more important than
ever. i wondered if you could talk from a different vantage point in that the religious communities sometimes lead in the issue depending on their theology at work. some may say that this particular theology is prone to support the notion of immigration or other kinds of rights. on the other hand, the secular public sometimes leads on the issue. i wondered if you could talk about the balance in influence, and how in the jewish context how a civic issue becomes a jewish issue, and what his response to the jewish issue are the secular issue, and what is the response to that activism more dialogue? >> one example is marriage equality, which i don't think we started in the religious community, a weak.a jc rc it is important to bring to bear the religious voices due to the way that the debate is constructed.
there is a remarkable change in attitude about marriage equality. it was only 10 to 15 years ago where the attitude was much more fixed and often negative about it. we got this was a case where we could truly provide value added by bringing in the voice of the view jewish community. i want to be careful and not sing a religious voice, and we have conservative and orthodox ideas on marriage, but what we were looking at was the specific question of what became the central civil rights issue of our time. once it was clear we were dealing with the central civil rights issue of our time, we had to weigh in as a community. >> a beautiful example, and we would come back with this wonderful examination with our conversation with doug kahn, so please join us back here with more on mosaic.
welcome back to mosaic, i am trans -- rabbi eric weiss and we are about to enter a wonderful conversation with rabbi doug kahn, executive director of the jewish community relations council. we open up with a picture of you and abby michelson and mayor ed lee and joe goldman. back that was taken -- >> that was taken at the jewish heritage night, and we worked with the mayor to create a jewish heritage night in city hall, beautiful celebration and we are grateful to mayor ed lee. one of the top rules of the jc rc is to be the voice of the
jewish community with the broader community, and that includes working with city officials. and i am thrilled that abby will be our successor, and outstanding leader.>> we are blessed to have her. what are some of the challenges that you see for the future of the jc rc? >> one of the overriding challenges is for the community. there's a greater polarization around israel, and at the same time there remains a strong consensus in support of israel as a jewish and democratic state. reaffirming that consists is and maintaining the broad sense of the views within the community will continue to be a challenge going forward. simultaneously, we've seen a growth of the anti-israel opportunity in the bay area, and addressing that challenge and continuing the proactive intergroup relations and civic engagement is incredibly important.
to maintain both sides of the equation is going to be a big challenge and opportunity going forward.>> it reminds me what you said earlier about the organizations structured in the social action landscape that will put themselves in a niche, and this is a perfect example of why does important within the jewish community that the jc rc exist as a journalist with that tremendous amount of experience, to cross pollinate the different issues in the community for the future benefit of all of us. >> about five years ago, there was an issue in the community where emotions exploded, and the role of the jc rc as being the exemplar of stability in the community came in extremely useful. we created a year of civil discourse that helped to calm down the community, and enable those was strongly held views to talk with one another. and that historic role
continues to be very important. >> what do you think of at this moment is part of your legacy? i have learned so much for my predecessors, and i hope i have had the opportunity to pass on some lessons to my successor, abby, and in addition, i hope my legacy has been to work with our lay and professional leadership, and an understanding how important it is to continue to advocate on key issues in the community. i hope that i have done that. i also really believe that having the privilege of taking hundreds of people to israel over the years, and what they continue to carry with them through their own experience and through their eyes will continue to filter out into the community. and there are many initiatives we have undertaken during my tenure in the area of public
education, literacy training in the schools, that will continue as well. i am confident that many of the most important programs will continue, and at the same time that abby and the wonderful leadership will put their stamp on it.>> we have just a little bit of time left. no clergy person will into their formal career the way that they began it, and i wonder in a moment if you could talk and give us one example of how you have personally been changed by the very work that you have been engaged in.>> it is interesting, and i think i went into this work filled with a sense of optimism, optimism about the relationship between the jewish community and israel, optimism about social values in the world, addressing the key issues of our time. what i found is that many of these issues persist, and there are not easy answers. there are different chapters in our history that we will have
to continue to move through. my hope is that the next chapter will be as fulfilling for the people that take it over as this one has been for me. thank you so much rabbi doug kahn, and your beautiful wife ellen, celebrating hanukkah at the white house, and thank you so much for being hit with us -- being with us here on mosaic. look, i know you're a cow and all. and you may not know what i'm talking about, but, uh. the yogurt made from your milk, is delicious. mmmm, yoplait.
show everything from sex to super bowl! glad to have you on board. we begin in the ation of happy sunday everyone and welcome back to bay sunday, and live a great show. we are glad to have you on board. we will begin with the celebration of life, coming easier to san francisco, the annual ball and street parade and festival over the memorial day weekend, may 2030 24th, and everything in between, taking over the city with food, dance, crafts and float. and we have the parade coordinator, roderigo durand with us. out of the te