Seven leaders of New Jersey's Jewish community are expected to accompany Gov. Chris Christie on his five-day mission to Israel next week.
The trip is part of what his office calls his administration’s “broader initiative to strengthen New Jersey’s economic and diplomatic relationships with foreign nations.”
The governor and his family are scheduled to arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport on April 1. According to a news release, Christie “will travel to several areas of the country to visit businesses, meet with diplomatic leaders, and pay respect to the culture and traditions of the region and its people.”
On April 5 they will leave Israel for a three-day visit to Jordan. It is not known whether any of the Jewish leaders will join the governor on his visit there.
Expenses for the trip are being covered by the Republican Jewish Coalition and Choose New Jersey, a nonprofit formed by business executives in 2010. The group, founded with Christie's blessing, describes its mission as “lowering taxes, reducing government regulation and spending, and creating a better location for business today and in the future.” Although under tax rules it does not have to disclose its donors, the group's members include top officers of Verizon New Jersey, Wakefern Food Corporation, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, United Water, and other NJ-based businesses.
Among those accompanying Christie on his first trip to the Middle East will be Jacob Toporek, executive director of the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations; Max Kleinman, executive vice president of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ; Mark Levenson, chair of the New Jersey-Israel Commission; Josh Pruzansky, NJ regional director for public policy at the Orthodox Union; Rabbi Yosef Carlebach, executive director of Chabad at Rutgers University; Irwin Kotler, executive director of the Beth Medrash Govoha yeshiva in Lakewood; and State Sen. Robert Singer (R-Dist. 30).
Christie is scheduled to meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres on Tuesday.
Plans for Christie to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top Israeli leaders have not yet been finalized.
UPDATE: This article has been updated toinclude funding information.