An article in the April 15 issue of NJJN reported on the 11th annual Labor Seder, held April 7 in New Brunswick. Leaders of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ prepared the following response to comments made by participants at the seder. We reprint their response in its entirety. — The editors
United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ prides itself on being a “neutral” convener of different viewpoints on important issues to the Jewish community and does not engage in partisan politics. We do not condone attacks on our elected officials at any event we sponsor. It is always our intent to maintain the utmost propriety. Our objective is to have substantive discussions that help to promote the best interests of the entire Jewish community.
Unfortunately, at the Labor Seder we cosponsored, this practice was breached.
We therefore sent the letter below to Gov. Chris Christie. The Labor Seder was cosponsored by UJC MetroWest NJ and the Jewish Labor Committee in partnership with Anshe Emeth Memorial Temple; Essex-West Hudson Labor Council, AFL-CIO; Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County; the Labor Education Center, Rutgers University; Local 32BJ, SEIU; and the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations.
Dear Governor Christie:
For many years, the Community Relations Committee of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ has been a cosponsor of an annual “Labor Seder.” The event is an opportunity to connect the themes of Passover to issues of social justice that have been advanced by the labor movement in this country over many decades. It has been an occasion that has helped to cement relations between the Jewish community and organized labor, an important constituency. In cosponsoring this event, it is never our intent to provide a platform for partisan or derogatory comments.
We deeply regret that remarks were made at this year’s Labor Seder held on April 7 in New Brunswick with regard to you and your administration. Some participants in the event took the occasion to inject decidedly partisan content into their remarks. Some directly attacked the policies of your administration and characterized you in a negative light. We are very disturbed that the event was politicized, and we regret any offense caused by these individuals’ remarks.
As a result of the unacceptable tenor of this year’s event, we are actively reviewing our future participation. We cannot permit our organization to be associated with this type of behavior.
We look forward to actively engaging with you and your administration on the many issues of concern to the Jewish community throughout your tenure.
Gary O. Aidekman, president
Max L. Kleinman, executive vice president
United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ