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Jewish Federations’ priorities approved in 2018 state budget
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Jewish Federations’ priorities approved in 2018 state budget

“WITH THE COMPROMISE reached by Governor Christie and legislative leadership and with the governor’s signature of approval on the budget, we are pleased and grateful that the state has responded favorably to our advocacy efforts on behalf of community priorities,” said Gordon Haas, president of the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations. 

Authorization was extended for a fifth consecutive year for a “Grants in Aid” allocation for the Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program (HSAP). The HSAP will receive $400,000. The five-year total for the HSAP is $1.8 million.

“The state’s allocation will help provide our aging survivors access to services such as a home health aide, transportation, nursing, subsidized adult medical day care, kosher Meals on Wheels, and other nutrition and case management services,” said Jennifer Dubrow Weiss, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Southern NJ. The Samost Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JFS) of Southern NJ administers the HSAP’s state allocation on behalf of the state’s various JFS agencies.

The FY 2018 State Budget funds a $1 million NJ Nonprofit Security Grant Pilot Program to serve as a resource for institutional target hardening projects and for the hiring of security personnel. “The Pilot Grant Program is a welcome response by the state to our plea for assistance in light of recent bomb threats and the rise in acts of violence against faith-based communities,  which exposed the vulnerabilities and fears of our community,” said Dov Ben-Shimon, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest. 

The FY18 State Budget increased security monies for students in non-public schools from $50 per student to $75. “With approximately 40,000 students in Jewish day schools and yeshivas, the additional dollars translate into an increase from $2 million to $3 million in security assistance” for non-public schools, said Jason Shames, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northern NJ.

Non-public schools will also benefit from additional monies provided for nursing services: from $86.25 per student in FY 2017 to $95. Technology assistance was increased $11 per student from the FY 2017 level of $26 per student. Families that require school transportation for their children will now be reimbursed up to a maximum of $1,000, a $116 rise from the FY18 allocation of $884.  

Jacob Toporek, executive director of the State Association, pointed to the collaborative advocacy efforts of the State Association’s Jewish Community Disabilities Working Group in helping to secure $20 million for a wage increase for direct service professionals. “Our Jewish Community Disabilities Working Group joined with The Arc of New Jersey, NJ Association of Community Providers, and the Alliance for the Betterment of Citizens with Disabilities in a coalition of parents and providers to move this issue forward,” Toporek said.

During a time when public resources are strained, “our federations have been compelled to leverage public allocations with philanthropic dollars where possible for the benefit of our vulnerable populations and to further our service to the community,” said Keith Krivitzky, CEO of the Jewish Federation in the Heart of NJ. “We thank Governor Christie and our legislative sponsors for supporting these initiatives.” 

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