State federations tout year’s policy victories
Partial restoration of state Medicaid funds for nursing homes, tightened sanctions against Iran, strong responses to anti-Semitic incidents, greater community actions on behalf of individuals with special needs, anti-poverty initiatives, and aging-in-place programs are among the key accomplishments of the New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations this year, said its executive director, Jacob Toporek.
In his report to the association’s annual meeting on July 8 at the Wilf Jewish Community Campus in Scotch Plains, Toporek also praised Jewish community efforts in working to reduce government red tape, arranging a dedication ceremony for a memorial to fallen Jewish military chaplains at Arlington Cemetery, and coordinating Gov. Chris Christie’s April visit to Israel.
“We have a great team,” said Toporek, “allowing us to enhance our advocacy initiatives in such areas as aging-in-place, community security, building the capacity of our community nonprofits, and senior transportation.”
“It has been my pleasure over the past year to work with these dedicated Jewish community leaders,” said president Ruth Cole, who was elected to serve a third year as president. As organizational officers, “they played a significant role in the many accomplishments secured by the State Association this past year.”
Keynote speaker at the meeting was Charles McKenna, chief counsel to Christie. McKenna formerly served as director of the State Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
Mark Levenson, State Association president-elect, introduced McKenna, pointing to his leadership in building a strong response from the highest levels of law enforcement to security threats faced by the Jewish community. “From the outset, chief counsel McKenna looked to partner with our community to ensure that vigilance in the face of terrorist dangers remains high and that the resources of Homeland Security and the Governor’s Office are readily available to us,” Levenson said.
The State Association officers are: president Ruth Cole (UJA Federation of Northern NJ); president-elect Mark Levenson (Jewish Federation of Greater Clifton Passaic); vice-presidents Sam Pepper (Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ), Annabel Lindenbaum (Jewish Federation of Ocean County), Gordon Haas (Greater MetroWest), and Toby Shylit Mack (Jewish Federation of Monmouth County); secretary Susan Penn (Northern NJ); treasurer David Farber (Jewish Federation of Southern NJ); members-at-large Meryl Gonchar (Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County), Elaine Dunst (Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon, Warren), and Howard Greenberg (Jewish Federation of Princeton Mercer Bucks); and immediate past president Roy Tanzman (Greater Middlesex County).