MEMBERS OF THE NJ State Assembly Pamela Lampitt (D-Dist. 6) and Holly Schepisi (R-Dist. 39) have been named honorary cochairs of the “NJ Legislators’ Study Mission to Israel” organized by the NJ State Association of Jewish Federations.
The mission, scheduled for Feb. 25-March 4, follows upon the 2014 State Association’s trip in which 12 legislators — including Lampitt and Schepisi — participated and which, said State Association president Mark Levenson, “was an informative and educational visit which deepened the ties between New Jersey and Israel and among the participants.”
“We look to increasing the number of legislators for the 2016 mission,” said Levenson who is serving as mission chair. Lampitt and Schepisi, he said, “certainly will help in recruitment efforts; they felt a connection to the State of Israel and its people as a result of the first mission.”
“Living my entire life hearing about Israel — the culture, beauty, history — when the opportunity arose to finally travel there it was something I did not want to miss,” said Lampitt. The 2014 trip “was a blend of all that and understanding how Israel’s government works, how the nation supports the environment and those with special-service needs” in a multi-cultural and multi-faith society. “There is so much to see and absorb; that is why I am going back in 2016.”
“Traveling to Israel for the first time two years ago,” Schepisi said, “I finally understood the import of United States support for this country. Here is a country, roughly the size of New Jersey, but ranked second in the world for venture capital funds and hosting the largest percentage by population of startup companies in the world, while developing such innovative technologies as Amazon’s Kindle and the Iron Dome missile defense system.”
Schepisi also pointed to Israel’s security concerns. “One cannot fully perceive the scope and magnitude of the dangers faced by Israel and its citizens before understanding that its neighbors are as similar in size and distance as New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware are to New Jersey — but yet each of these neighbors have expressed a desire at some point to eliminate Israel.
“As NJ legislators it is important to learn firsthand how to look to Israel as a model for turning New Jersey back into a business leader while showing our support for Israel’s security concerns,” Schepisi said.
State Association executive director Jacob Toporek said the two legislators’ commitment to the mission “reflects the strong and reliable support in the Legislature from both sides of the aisle that the Jewish community counts on time and again on matters concerning Israel and the NJ-Israel relationship.”