January 4, 2024

Jersey and Israel

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

I’ve spent time these past few days working with our neighboring Jewish federations as we look at our work in Trenton and across the state. Over the past few months, our statewide coalition of Jewish Federations has secured over $1.5 million in extra funding for our priority initiatives; kosher meals on wheels, nonprofit security grant funding, Holocaust survivor assistance programs, and directly advocated for increased day school funding resulting in an increase that saved a bus route for West Orange. We also oversaw a massive change in NJ’s K-12 curriculum, mandating Holocaust education. Now we’re now working on recruiting legislators to come to Israel with our JCRC on a mission.

Aside from legislative accomplishments, my colleague Harris Laufer, our State Director, has been continuously engaged with Rutgers University. He’s working with the University Administration and the Governor’s office to ensure that Jewish students are safe on campus. He’s also helped to coordinate Israel solidarity events across the state and has already secured commitments for next year’s NJ State Budget, including funding to combat antisemitism. At Rutgers we’ve also been following and supporting the case for Yoel Ackerman, a 36-year old NJ resident and father of three, who spoke out against a Jew-hating pro-Hamas video. I’ve spoken with his lawyer, and you can read about the case here – the video praised Hamas fighters and falsely claimed that no people were raped or killed at the music festival during the attack. According to the complaint, the video was shared on October 12, when Hamas had called for a worldwide “day of rage” against Jews and others. “The sharing and endorsing of that false video, along with related comments defending the same, were discriminatory, harassing and intimidating towards Jewish law students, including Plaintiff Yoel Ackerman,” the complaint said. And Yoel was left unprotected and harassed when he stood up for the truth.

If you missed it, there was a thoughtful article by Natan Sharansky and Bassem Eid yesterday on the ‘day after’ in Gaza. What I found particularly interesting was this: “There must first be a transitional period during which security remains in Israel’s hands. Administrative control should pass to a coordinating body of representatives from the West and Arab countries that recognize Israel.” And also here: “The mission of this body should be to rebuild the Palestinian education system, purging it of jihadism; destroy the refugee camps, giving their residents normal housing; and respect civil-society organizations, granting them the freedom to promote human rights and the rule of law. Only after this should elections be held; elections in a society that isn’t free will have no significance.”

We’re looking at the ‘day after’ the war here at Federation too, and I’ll write more about that soon. In the meantime, here’s an overview of how our Jewish Federations have allocated the $265 million already sent in ten rounds of allocations.

You can read the full report here. And remember that every dollar we raise(d) for the emergency fund for Israel goes to help those who need it on the ground. We don’t take overhead or fees for that. So the logistics, the fight against hate, standing up for a strong Jewish community, and our work around the Jewish world, all continue through your support of the United Jewish Appeal. That means that we don’t build a fire station the day the fire breaks out; we’re ready, at a moment’s notice, to care for those in need, build community, and save the world.

One person at a time.

That’s because of your support. Thank you.