April 22, 2024
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April 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

It’s Not Your Grandparents’ ZOA. Or, Is It?

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) traces its roots directly to the First Zionist Congress held in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897. For 120 years, the ZOA has been fighting for Israel and for the Jewish people and boasts a rich history under the prominent leadership of luminaries such as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Rabbi Dr. Abba Hillel Silver and the current national president, Morton A. Klein. You can find more history about our organization online or by dropping me a line. Let me tell you a little bit about myself and let me describe today’s ZOA.

My love of Israel and of Judaism was forged in my parents’ home in Monsey. I was infused with Yiddishkeit by my parents and grandparents. My mom’s sister and her family made aliyah in 1963. I was barely 9 years old when the war broke out in 1967. have vivid, tense memories of my parents anxiously waiting for a call back from the international telephone operator, connecting them to my aunt and uncle so we would know our family was safe. At 15 years old, I began to develop an understanding of the nature of Israel’s enemies; it seemed unconscionable that Israel could be attacked on Yom Kippur. Israeli Bonds and trees planted in Israel were the gifts my parents gave for all simchas. I watched the Camp David Accords in a lounge at SUNY Albany, hopeful that peace was possible. The die was cast early on in my youth; defending Israel and Judaism became a central part of who I would be for the rest of my life.

My name is Alan Jay and I am the executive director of the northern New Jersey chapter of the ZOA. My wife, Ellen, and I are for clients and customers. For 20+ years I have sat on the board of trustees at my shul, The Jewish Community Center of Paramus/Congregation Beth Tikvah, where I have also chaired many committees and special events. I shared my personal message of Israel advocacy and standing up to anti-Semitism locally, but I needed to do more. When it crossed my desk, I jumped at the opportunity to join the ZOA.

Our ZOA Campus division is active on more than 120 U.S. college campuses. ZOA Campus coordinators work closely with students, giving them the skills to confront the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel boycott, divest and sanction movement, BDS, and other anti-Semitic propaganda. Every year we send scores of college students on our free ZOA Student Leadership Mission to Israel. They travel to Judea and Samaria, the Gaza border, the Golan and the Knesset to get intense Israel advocacy training they can take back to their college campuses.

Our connection to the leaders of tomorrow doesn’t stop at the college level. The ZOA’s Fuel for Truth offers “boot camp” training to young professionals, providing the education and advocacy skills that empower young Zionists and give them the fundamental skills they need to defend and protect Israel and the Jewish people.

The ZOA fights for Israel and the Jewish people on the legal front as well. Our Center for Law and Justice led the successful fight to convince the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights to reinterpret Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to protect Jewish students from anti-Semitic harassment and discrimination. We file amicus briefs on issues of importance to the Jewish people. And we assist American victims of terrorism in vindicating their rights and holding sponsors of terrorism accountable.

ZOA’s Government Relations Department is directed by full-time registered lobbyists who meet regularly with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to educate them about issues critical to Israel’s safety and security and to a strong U.S.-Israel alliance. Every year we sponsor an advocacy mission to Capitol Hill, where ZOA activists from across the country meet with lawmakers and their staff to educate them about issues affecting the U.S. and Israel.

ZOA maintains an office in Jerusalem that enjoys strong ties to members of the Knesset and to members of the Israeli press, affording the ZOA a bird’s-eye view of, and boots-on-the-ground access to, information coming out of Israel. We work on pressing projects in Israel, including the security and preservation of the Mount of Olives, one of Israel’s holiest sites.

Today’s ZOA boasts regional chapters across the U.S., each offering localized Israel advocacy and ZOA programming.

We have modernized our approach at the ZOA: we maintain relevant, information-rich websites. We’re on Facebook and Twitter. For more than 120 years, the ZOA has been the strongest voice for a safe and secure Israel. We are Zionists. We are the updated version of our grandparents’ ZOA.

Email [email protected] to be added to our New Jersey mailing list. Visit www.nj.zoa.org or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ZOA.NJ/. Visit ZOA’s national site at www.zoa.org

Join us on Wednesday, May 9, for a full day of Israel advocacy in Washington, D.C., on ZOA’s Capitol Hill mission. Optional transportation to and from Teaneck (includes Glatt kosher meals).

For details see the ad in this newspaper or drop me a line at [email protected] or 201-528-3677.

By Alan D. Jay

Alan D. Jay is executive director of the northern New Jersey chapter of the Zionist Organization of America.

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