September 9, 2020
Announced during AJC’s Global Forum in 2019, the bipartisan Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations was created to address the urgent need to bring together the Black and Jewish communities.
The Caucus was established by Reps. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Will Hurd (R-TX), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), and the late John Lewis (D-GA) to raise awareness of each community’s sensitivities and needs in Congress and around the country and to provide resources to members of Congress to empower them to bring Black and Jewish communities together, combating stereotypes and hate and showcasing commonalities.
The Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations has 55 members. The Caucus consists of Blacks and Jews, Democrats and Republicans.
Since its founding in June of 2019, the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations has brought both communities together to advocate for priority legislation in a plethora of ways:
- Amid rising antisemitism in the U.S. and abroad, the Caucus joined AJC’s #JewishandProud Day viral social media campaign in January 2020 to show support for America’s Jewish community after a series of brazen antisemitic attacks in New York and New Jersey. Co-Chairs Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), Will Hurd (R-TX), and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) posted about their unwavering support.
- In May 2020, the Caucus announced it would combat antisemitism and all forms of racism by advocating for passage of the NO HATE Act, stating that, “Hate crimes will continue to spread if left unaddressed. For our country to thrive during this turbulent time, each of our communities must not only feel safe but know that their concerns are counted on a national scale.” According to the FBI, Jews have long been the group most targeted by religiously-motivated hate crimes, while Black Americans are by far the most targeted for racially-motivated crimes.
- After the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, the Caucus convened a roundtable of a select group of Black and Jewish organizations, including AJC, to discuss policy recommendations to combat racism in the U.S. A full version of AJC’s statement and policies presented to the Caucus can be found here.
- On July 18, 2020, the members of the Caucus mourned the passing of civil rights icon and Caucus founding Co-Chair, Rep. John Lewis. In an emotional statement, fellow Co-Chairs expressed their admiration for their colleague, noting that “his belief in the power of Blacks and Jews to affect change together, to advocate for each other and stomp out all bigotry, was integral to the formation of the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations.” You can also watch members honoring the life and legacy of Rep. Lewis during an AJC Advocacy Anywhere program.
- Leaders of the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations and the Congressional Black Caucus will soon introduce a resolution that celebrates Black-Jewish relations to bolster mutual understanding and recognize the joint need to combat antisemitism and racism.
Want to learn more about the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations? This interview with Rep. Lawrence has everything you need to know about the creation and thinking behind this important initiative. You can also listen to this episode of AJC’s People of the Pod podcast, recorded in January 2020 ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, with Caucus founders Reps. Lawrence, Wasserman-Schultz, and Zeldin.