By Gordon Haas
This is my final blog as the chairman of the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ. It has been an eventful three-year stint.
As the first CRC chair of the newly merged Federation back in 2012, it took time to get all of the CRC members to get to know each other and to work as the cohesive unit that exists now.
We tackled many different challenges, such as the ongoing saga of Iran; Syrian civil war related chemical warfare; and Boycott, Divestiture, and Sanctions activity of college campus in our area. Israel advocacy work in our high schools and on our college campuses was strengthened, and we launched a Step Up For Israel program for the community at large. We held three amazing Israel Advocacy programs that attracted great speakers and large audiences. We were in the forefront of an enormous statewide anti-human trafficking coalition made up of more than 100 diverse organizations all working together to combat this crime. We joined the battle against domestic abuse by becoming involved in another statewide group.
When Israel was attacked with rockets from Gaza, we helped organize three large community demonstrations of support, turning out more than 800 attendees on a Monday morning to hear from a wide variety of speakers including Senator Robert Menendez and drawing a large crowd to The Green in Morristown on a beautiful summer evening.
I met with many elected officials in the past three years at all levels of government; local, county, state and national representatives to discuss issues that relate to our community. I had the privilege of joining 12 members of the New Jersey legislature on a trip to Israel covering the country in a short six days. This mission opened their eyes to the real facts on the ground and enabled them to have a better understanding of what Israelis face on a daily basis.
Working with the CRC these past years has shown me that there is strength in unity. We can accomplish many things as a unified entity that would be impossible for individuals to achieve. This is what Federation is all about; we stand with our brethren and with all those in need and provide for those less fortunate throughout the world. It is important to understand that if we put our differences aside we can make the world a better place. If only the nations of the world would learn that valuable lesson, we would all be better off and reap the benefits of peace.
It has been an exciting three years, with never ending challenges to face. Hopefully I succeeded in solving a few of them. I must thank my fellow CRC committee members who made the impossible possible. Special thanks to Mara Gellman and Melanie Gorelick whose tireless work makes the CRC shine. Without you, this task would have been much more difficult.
Thank you all for the opportunity to take this journey as CRC chair. I wish my successor, Rabbi Elliot Mathias, a bon voyage as he sets forth on the beginning of his CRC “trip” for the next three years.