On the eve of being honored by Rutgers Hillel at its annual dinner, former Gov. Jon Corzine pledged to remain active in areas important to the Jewish community and Israel.
“I can’t imagine I won’t be involved with the Jewish community,” said Corzine, who lost his bid for a second term in November, during a phone interview with NJJN and other media on Feb. 10.
Corzine spoke of the close economic and cultural ties between New Jersey and Israel he helped nurture with the establishment of the New Jersey-Israel Commission as a permanent body within the Department of State. Corzine was also a regular at Super Sunday fund-raisers and other Jewish community events.
Corzine described Israel as having “one of the most dynamic and entrepreneurial business environments in the world.”
“That is why we put greater emphasis on the economic role and made [NJIC] permanent,” said Corzine. “The relationship between Israel and New Jersey will continue to grow if people nurture it.”
Corzine said future endeavors with the Jewish community and Israel are almost a given, based on his social circle and areas of interest.
Corzine also described his Jewish ties in more personal terms.
“The lady who happens to be number one in my life happens to be Jewish,” he said of significant other Sharon Elghanayan, who, he said, holds a lay leadership position with the Hillel at Brown University.
Corzine will be honored at the Rutgers Hillel’s March 23 annual gala at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston.
“We’re very grateful to Gov. Corzine,” said Rutgers Hillel development director Lee Rosenfield, “because he recognizes we are developing leaders for the general community, and we’re delighted to have him as an example of public leadership.
“We deeply appreciate Gov. Corzine’s deep and demonstrated concern for Israel, which we, of course, share with him.”
Corzine said Rutgers University is a leader in such areas as environmental science and stem cell research.
“Organizations like Hillel contribute to the pluralism a great university needs,” he said.
He also spoke of future plans.
“I may end up establishing my own business, something entrepreneurial, or work in consultancy,” said Corzine, who served as CEO of Goldman Sachs before being elected to the first of two terms as U.S. senator in 2000.
And he offered praise for his successor.
Christie “is focusing on raising educational standards and improving the quality of public education, which is absolutely necessary if the United States and New Jersey are to be competitive in the days ahead.
“At least in the times I’ve heard him speak, he’s been very positive. He’s on a mission to raise the bar for education for all our kids, and there’s nothing more important. More of our kids go to college than any other place, and they are more prepared than in almost any other place. New Jersey is near the top now but we need to continue to stay ahead. He and I are on the same wavelength on that.”