The BUILDING BRIDGES campaign attests to our conviction that we need to proactively strengthen understanding between Jews and other groups in our society and not just put out fires. We have created meaningful associations with young, dynamic members of key ethnic and religious groups in order to advance policies of joint interest.  This campaign usually begins on Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend and concludes at Passover each year.

In 2011, 832 ACCESS people participated in 22 programs around the country.  The programs included conversations with Ethiopian Israelis, discussing electric cars with Indians, engaging with Muslims, and FOUR interethnic Seders.

ACCESS outreach efforts  include traditional dialogue, as well as collaborative political advocacy and community service. For example, ACCESS groups across the country are hosting meetings with Indian Americans on new energy alternatives – advancing AJC’s agenda in pressing the U.S. to become independent of foreign oil and to be environmentally responsible, and supporting the Indian American agenda of promoting entrepreneurs in its own community.

ACCESS has piloted “community service engagement” – participating in community service alongside other ethnic groups as a way of doing good, strengthening intergroup relations, and sending a strong sign of cooperation to the broader society. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, ACCESS started a multi-year series of projects in New Orleans. During the course of this work, ACCESS developed a strong relationship with Xavier University, the only black Catholic university in the U.S., and with the Office of Black Ministry in N.Y., culminating in a Black Christian-Jewish conference in New Orleans in 2009.

To get involved in the Building Bridges campaign in your city, contact ACCESS in your region.

Restoring Civility in Public Discourse: the ACCESS 20/20 Weekend:

Global youth activists from around the world, including the Middle East, Europe, and ethnic and religious partners from throughout the US, join together during the ACCESS 20/20 Weekend for a unique conversation about strengthening civil societies in a time of intense polarization. This track focuses on the troubling rise in “uncivil” political discourse. At the conclusion of the conference, participants sign a “civility pledge” to bolster joint action moving forward.

To foster the discussions, strenghten the ties made during the 20/20 Weekend, we have created a google group where participants can share ideas, collaborate/support one another and keep updated on the adoption of the pledge by each organizations.

Sign the ACCESS Civil Engagement Pledge HERE.
Download the program of the conference.

Read what Mark Kingwell, Professor at the University of Toronto and speaker at the conference, has to say about civility. (this article has not been published yet and cannot be quoted without permission)

This event was made possible through the generous donations of: The Klaff Family Foundation, The Leonard Greenberg Forum for Domestic Policy Issues, Janine and Darryl Behrman Fund, Walter Nathan Fund, the Dorot Foundation, Joey Low and other AJC ACCESS leaders and donors.

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