DELIVERING THE URGENT appeal to “help us help those in need,” more than 30 Jewish leaders and Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ agency executives met on May 31 with state legislators to advocate for issues of concern to the Jewish community. The third annual legislative breakfast, held at JCC MetroWest in West Orange, was sponsored by the federation’s Community Relations Committee.
The key items on the agenda were: building the capacity of nonprofits, Holocaust survivors’ assistance programs, and safeguarding the most vulnerable and those in need.
Federation executive vice president/CEO Max Kleinman emphasized that at a time when America’s charities are being asked to provide more services to the needy — often with shrinking resources and government support — the federation’s agencies are working harder than ever to ensure a safety net for the most vulnerable. That, he said, was the theme of the breakfast — “Help us help those in need.”
NJ Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Dist. 34) praised the vibrancy of the federation and the benefits of its agencies’ “cradle to the grave” service delivery and commitment to social justice. Oliver said that “together we can leverage our work and make life better for people — government cannot do that alone.”
The priorities addressed at the breakfast included:
• Building nonprofits’ capacity: As the Jewish federations in New Jersey and their beneficiary agencies — along with other charities — experience a philanthropic drop-off, the CRC seeks the partnership of legislators to help provide financial incentives to encourage people to reside in New Jersey and donate to nonprofits.
The federation is urging that Gov. Chris Christie sign into law legislation (S-2532/A-3860) that clarifies that charitable contributions from out-of-state residents to New Jersey-based organizations are not to be considered as a factor in determining where a person is domiciled for the purposes of the state’s gross income tax.
The federation also encourages Congress to protect charitable-giving incentives in the federal tax code.
• Holocaust survivors: The CRC is urging passage of the Statewide Holocaust Survivor Supplemental Assistance resolution, a “comprehensive safety net” introduced in both the Assembly and Senate.
• Safeguarding the most vulnerable and those in need — By 2028, one in five NJ citizens will be over 65 and one in 20 will be 85 years or older. Federation urges NJ legislators to create a master plan to address the concerns of seniors and to secure a permanent source of funding to allow fixed- or moderate-income seniors to age in place in their homes. Federation asks legislators to support the bill (S-1796-A353) that would appropriate $250,000 for a pilot Natural Occurring Retirement Community in Mercer County.
Federation is also concerned about helping those with special needs and their families; it advocates keeping the over $83 million in new funding for community inclusion proposed by Christie and adding a 3 percent cost-of-care increase for providers in the budget.
For more information, go to www.jfedgmw/crc.