Some 16,000 Jewish activists — the largest number to date — attended the AIPAC Policy Conference, held in Washington, DC, March 1-3.
In addition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speakers who addressed the group on Monday included National Security Adviser Susan Rice; Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), chair of the Democratic National Committee; Rep. Steven Israel (D-NY); Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (D-Fla.); Ambassador Dennis Ross; and former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank.
On Sunday at the AIPAC Policy Conference, the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey welcomed approximately 100 guests at a reception for Monmouth and Middlesex County residents attending the gathering.
“Ours was one of the very few federations doing a reception at AIPAC,” said CEO Keith Krivitzky. “It is a sign of partnership and the importance of the work AIPAC does in strengthening the relationship between government and political leaders and Israel.”
Eric Fingerhut, the president and international director of Hillel, welcomed guests to the Schusterman International Center — headquarters of Hillel International — where the event took place. He spoke of the importance of Israel engagement and education work on college campuses, which have become in some places battlegrounds between Israel haters and pro-Israel Jewish and non-Jewish students — as well as a critical venue for engaging those who fall in neither camp regarding Israel.
In a related special briefing, an AIPAC representative spoke about the growth in participants and leadership among community members from the Monmouth and Middlesex region and highlighted the leading role the Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ is playing in building bridges and helping support AIPAC’s work.
Federation president Mitch Frumkin spoke about shared goals and urged working together to accomplish a great deal more than can be done through separate endeavors. Frumkin also spoke about the federation’s focus on engaging the 120,000 Jews in its area — by spreading the word not just about federation, but about how involvement with Jewish life and community can add value, meaning, and support for all community members,.
Krivitzky closed by highlighting the parallels between what is happening in the world and to the Jewish community today with the story of Purim, celebrated later that week. Resurgent anti-Semitism, he said, requires collective action by the Jewish people to ensure survival of the Jewish people. (Go to bit.ly/1F57YuB for a full message from Krivitzky.)
Several community rabbis were in attendance, including Rabbi Lisa Malik of Temple Beth Ahm in Aberdeen, Rabbi Joshua Finkelstein of East Brunswick Jewish Center, Rabbi Nesanayl Braun of Congregation Brothers of Israel in Long Branch, Rabbi Jay Weinstein of Young Israel of East Brunswick, and Rabbi Laibel Schapiro of Chabad of the Shore. Also in attendance were Rutgers Hillel executive director Andrew Getraer, accompanied by several students, as well as federation executive vice president Susan Antman.