JCRC receives national award from JCPA

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Natalie Silverman (left) of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs presents JCPA’s Program Excellence Award to Maharat Rori Picker Neiss (center) and Alyssa Banford of the Jewish Community Relations Council  of St. Louis. The award honored JCRC’s summer day camp for children of refugees.

The Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis recently received a national award for its summer day camp for refugee children at the International Institute of St. Louis.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) recognized JCRC with its Program Excellence Award at JCPA’s recent national conference. The award recognizes “an exemplary, outstanding, and/or innovative program that advances the goals of the Jewish community relations field and serves as a model for other communities.” 

Launched in 2016, the Jewish Coalition for New Americans Day Camp is a four-week, half-day summer camp for refugee children. It seeks to provide support to new American families by providing an educational child-care program so new American parents can continue English classes and gain job training. The program helps children gain English language skills, learn more about American culture and develop a supportive peer community.

“JCPA is thrilled to provide this award to this meaningful project. Amid challenges to America’s traditional narrative as a nation of immigrants, it is beautiful to see a local community coming together with other faith groups to welcome the stranger,” said David Bernstein, president and CEO of JCPA, in a statement. “We had many great submissions this year, but this one stood out as exemplary. It models the importance of doing intergroup work locally and tackling today’s pressing issues.”  

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The camp involves move than 200 volunteers from the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities. 

“The JCRC of St. Louis believes that the future of the Jewish community in St. Louis is inextricably linked to the fate of the wider region. We are stronger, safer, and better together. Because this is our core belief, we work on supporting vulnerable communities, especially when they may have little or no experience with Jews,” said Maharat Rori Picker Neiss, executive director of JCRC, in a statement.

The camp was previously recognized with the International Institute of St. Louis’ Lebadang Community Service Award at its Centennial Celebration.