by Gordon Haas
The launch of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ provides great opportunities for the Community Relations Committee (CRC) to be a true power base in New Jersey. It is also a daunting task.
Our vision is that we will have a greater impact with federal, state, and local elected officials and other policy makers in New Jersey on issues of great importance to the Jewish community. The CRC now represents 126,000 people in the four counties of Essex, Morris, Sussex, Union, and parts of Somerset.
We also represent 26 social service and educational organizations to seven Congressmen (more than half of the Representatives in the state), two Senators, and 14 legislative districts that include 42 state elected officials, 28 Assemblymen/women and 14 Senators.
The CRC is ready for the challenge! Already merged since 2010, CRC’s committees and task forces are made up of leaders from both communities interested in government affairs, public policy, and advocacy. These leaders are incredibly committed and passionate about promoting the concerns of the Jewish community.
The majority of the issues are identified in partnership with the Washington Action office of Jewish Federation of North America, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), and the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations. Sometimes, the issues are grassroots, such as the recent creation of the NJ Coalition Against Human Trafficking.
The CRC priority areas of concern for 2012-13 are:
· Protect Medicaid and the health safety net
· Advocate for programs for seniors to age in place
· Maximize incentives for charitable giving and supporting interests of non-profits
· Secure funding for homeland security
· Support Israel in its quest for peace and security
· Stop Iran’s nuclear capacity
· Combat human trafficking.
The CRC is beginning this year’s work on a high note. As a result of strong advocacy efforts, New Jersey’s Iran Business Certification and Sanctions Act passed in both the Assembly and Senate, and we expect the Governor’s signature.
The CRC introduced this bill to Assemblymen Bramnick and McKeon and Senator Kean during Super Sunday. All three understand the importance of ensuring all efforts are made to stop Iran from developing any nuclear capacity and the leadership role New Jersey has to play as a small but major export-import state. (You can read more about it in the NJJN.)
The CRC also worked tirelessly in conjunction with the NJ State Association for Medicaid reimbursement rates to be restored in the FY13 budget. Through many meetings with and letters to legislators and meetings with the Governor’s office, a good portion of this funding has been restored. Last year, Daughters of Israel in West Orange lost approximately $900,000. Budgets cannot be balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable or the social service organizations that we support.
We count on you to help the CRC and Federation be a great power base. Each member/donor has an important role to play when we advocate. Your voice is counted. I ask that when you receive an action alert from the CRC or via Federation’s weekly e-Update, you open the e-mail and take action and participate in mobilization efforts as needed through the year.
We are here for you and hope you will join us in making the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ a great success.