October 9, 2023

New Jerseyans gather in solidarity for Israel

Inside a Millburn synagogue Sunday night, politicians and leaders spoke and consoled those gathered in solidarity as Israel reels from a surprise attack by Hamas that put the nation at war.

Among those who spoke at Temple B’nai Jeshurun were New Jersey Attorney General Matthew Platkin, U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-11th Dist., U.S. Rep. Tom Kean, Jr., R-7th Dist., and Yuval Donio-Gideon, Consul for Public Diplomacy at the Consulate General of Israel.

And late Sunday, at Drumthwacket, the governor’s residence in Princeton was illuminated in blue and white for Israel, First Lady Tammy Murphy tweeted.

The Garden State has deep, varied connections to Israel, from people who vacation and visit family, to those who have second homes there, said Dov Ben-Shimon, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest.

Before the event at Temple B’nai Jeshurun, he said New Jersey and Israel, share “partnership and love and connections that run through everything we define as Jewish in New Jersey.”
“There are so many of us that partly live in Israel, that are from Israel, that have family and friends in Israel. And the values that we share here as American Jews are very much articulated and expressed in how we relate to Israel,” Ben-Shimon said.
The federation has deep ties in the country, too, with many professional relationships and seven Israeli employees who work on the federation’s mission of rescue, relief and renewal of Jewish life.
“We actually have several partnerships, several of which were very badly hit with hostages and people killed,” Ben-Shimon said.
“We’re still trying to ascertain the exact number of our friends and partners and employees who were directly involved in the fighting. We know of at least one Jewish Federation employee whose husband was shot and wounded. And we know of many people in our partnership communities who were killed or taken hostage.”
“We have many New Jersey residents with homes in Israel, who have moved to Israel. We are trying to locate New Jersey residents.” It’s unclear how many of them may have been affected by Saturday attacks, launched from Gaza, Ben-Shimon said.

The Greater MetroWest federation — which represents 100 synagogues and dozens of New Jersey organizations across Union, Essex, Sussex, Morris and Somerset counties — works toward a united Jewish community to support Israel and here at home, he said. (The group also works in some 80 other countries, as well.)

“On a more tragic level, it was very clear yesterday that the enemy that Israel faces is the same enemy that the United States faces. We are opposed by people who hate us, who hate Jews, who hate Americans who hate Israelis. They despise our freedoms and they want to kill us,” Ben-Shimon said.