The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is combining its New York and New Jersey regional operations, bringing the two areas together under the newly named New York-New Jersey Regional Office.
The new regional office will serve the entire state of New York plus the 14 counties of northern and central New Jersey.
Joshua Cohen, who served as N.J.’s regional director since 2015, left his position on June 11, the day the changes were announced.
Evan Bernstein, previous regional director of New York, has assumed leadership of the New York-New Jersey office.
“I’m excited by this opportunity to expand our work in the New Jersey region and strengthen our abilities to combat hate on both sides of the Hudson,” he said. “We’re currently working on building out our new team dedicating to supporting the needs of all of northern and central New Jersey.”
The ADL office in the Alex Aidekman Family Jewish Community Campus in Whippany will remain as a satellite, with a second location in Albany, N.Y.; the New York-New Jersey Regional Office will be based out of ADL’s national headquarters in Manhattan.
“I’m confident this merger will provide the necessary programmatic resources to rapidly and robustly serve the community,” Cohen told NJJN.
New Jersey is the third highest state in the nation for anti-Semitic activity, according to survey results released by the ADL in February. In 2017, 208 incidents were reported in New Jersey, a jump of 36 percent from the 152 incidents in 2016.
New York had, by far, the most incidents with 380, and California had 268.
Asked for his parting thoughts, Cohen said he was reminded of a favorite quote by Dr. Marin Luther King Jr.: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
He added, “Right now there are an awful lot of people pulling in the other direction, so our work is harder today than ever before and I plan to keep fighting for civil rights for the rest of my life.”
Cohen joined ADL in 2009, eventually becoming the associate director for the Philadelphia office before he became N.J. regional director five years later.
Cohen said he was proud of “securing justice and fair treatment for all, especially our work with the Muslim community,” referring to the many challenges faced by Muslims in building houses of worship in places such as Bridgewater and Basking Ridge. Cohen said the group was “held to a much higher standard than any other religious community.”
Another accomplishment during his tenure was “coming in at a challenging time for the regional office and working with our board and leadership to ensure that ADL’s timeless mission was fulfilled in New Jersey.”