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Jewish council gets new director

Burton slated to start in October

By David Abel
Globe Staff / July 29, 2011

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After an eight-month national search, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, one of the region’s largest advocacy groups for Jewish causes, named a New Yorker yesterday its new executive director.

Jeremy Burton, who is to take his new post in October, has two decades of experience working for Jewish and political organizations.

“My specific agenda is to build a really strong Jewish community,’’ said Burton, 42, an Orthodox Jew who described himself as liberal. “I think of liberalism as the endeavor to create a better world for our children and our next generation. It’s about being committed to the common good.’’

Burton will replace Nancy Kaufman, a well-known advocate for the Jewish community and other causes who served as the council’s director since 1990 and expanded it to include more than 40 groups. She left last year.

The coalition, which was founded in 1944, now has a $2.5 million budget and about 25 employees.

Burton now serves as a vice president of programs at the Jewish Funds for Justice, a foundation in New York.

Phil Rosenblatt, the council’s vice president and chairman of its search committee, said that Burton stood out from other candidates.

“Jeremy really brings everything we were looking for, including a broad and balanced view of the Jewish community,’’ said Rosenblatt. “He has a great history of community building within a Jewish organization, a strong personal Jewish identity, and firm commitment to Israel and her security. He’s the ideal candidate to execute our vision for the future of JCRC.’’

Burton said he supports a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinian people.

He said he supports inclusion of more liberal Jewish groups that have been critical of the Israeli government’s approach to the peace process. But he declined to say where he stands on whether Jerusalem should be shared or whether he agrees with Israeli officials’ approach to the peace process.

“My understanding is that the government is committed to the peace process,’’ he said. “Obviously, there are disagreements about tactics and policy issues. Our job is to support a safe and secure state.’’

While he has never lived in the Boston area and said he has a lot to learn about it, Burton emphasized that he shares a common view with most local Jews on at least one vital cause in Boston: He abhors the Yankees.

“I am a Mets fan,’’ he said. “I hope we can find common cause to root against the Yankees every day, every game.’’

David Abel can be reached at dabel@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @davabel.