Leaders from Monmouth and greater Middlesex counties – the area served by the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey – recently joined with hundreds of other advocates from around the country in Washington, D.C., for the Jewish Federations of North America’s Washington Conference to urge the nation’s leaders to combat anti-Semitism and hate crimes and to increase funding for Jewish communal security.
The group also advocated for expedited resettlement of Ukrainian refugees in their advocacy meetings with dozens of members of Congress and the Senate, according to a press release from the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey.
“Our delegation joined Jewish Federation members from 35 states, people of all backgrounds, but united in our common struggle for justice, not just for our own, but for all vulnerable populations in the United States,” said Tony Kestler of Manalapan, who was a Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey delegate.
“The timing of the conference could not have been more relevant as anti-Semitic incidents are at record highs in New Jersey and in the Unite States,” said Dan Rozett, the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey manager of community relations and Israel engagement, who led the community’s delegation.
“The conference is a keystone in Jewish Federation’s ongoing work with Jewish, multi-faith and government partners to seek practical solutions in matters of importance to the Jewish and broader communities,” Rozett said.
During the two-day conference, members of Congress and other thought leaders and public officials addressed the participants.
According to the press release, Senate Majority leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) vowed to increase funding for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to $360 million.
Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) said, “The Federation has done remarkable work to advance national security and root out and combat anti-Semitism at home and around the globe. I am grateful for the work you are doing.”
Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Makarova spoke about the implications of the war in her country, saying, “This is a fight about democracy against autocracy.”
National Football League player and advocate Zach Banner spoke about the unique bonds between the Jewish and Black communities in dealing with discrimination, saying, “The conversation has to be about similarities and differences between the Jewish and Black community.”
“The opportunity to inform our political representatives of the necessity for their support allowed us to actuate our civic duty and help direct national policy in a positive manner,” said delegate Alan Brodman of Monroe Township.
“I felt it was time for me to learn how I could make an impact,” delegate Amy Goodman of Marlboro said.
Delegate Dara Winston of East Brunswick, who works as a synagogue director, informed lawmakers of the importance of nonprofit security grants for houses of worship and their extended communities.
Susan Antman, the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey executive director, thanked the delegates for raising their voices in support of issues that enable Jewish communities to be healthy, safe and caring, according to the press release.