David Bernstein, former David Project chief, tapped to head JCPA
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David Bernstein, former David Project chief, tapped to head JCPA

(JTA) — David Bernstein, a businessman and longtime Jewish activist, has been tapped to head the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

Bernstein, 49, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, will succeed Steve Gutow as president and CEO of the organization, an umbrella for Jewish communal relations groups throughout North America. Gutow is stepping down Dec. 31 after 10 years.

For the past year, Bernstein has worked with Jewish federations and other national foundations as president of CultureSolutionsLLC, a consulting firm. He served as executive director of the David Project, an organization promoting Israel on North American campuses, from 2010 to 2014, and has also worked in senior positions in the American Jewish Committee.

“Given all of the challenges the Jewish community faces, from efforts to isolate and delegitimize Israel to efforts to undermine American pluralism, we needed an experienced executive with a fresh and creative approach,” said Susan Turnbull, chair of the JCPA board, in a news release issued by the organization. “We are convinced that we have found just that.”

In the news release, Bernstein said: “The Jewish community relations movement must rise to the challenge of delegitimization of Israel. This means not only stopping [the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel movement], which we will continue to do, but also doubling down on our ties to key, emerging demographic constituencies. We need to do less crisis management, and more preventative medicine in our support for Israel. With changes in technology and communications, we need to embrace 21st century methods that allow us to scale our impact.”