(Courtesy of JFNJ) Jewish Federations of New Jersey (JFNJ) applauded the New Jersey State Budget for Fiscal Year 2024, which was signed into law by Governor Murphy today, commending leadership in Trenton for prioritizing vital funding supported by New Jersey’s Jewish community.
“This Fiscal Year 2024 Budget demonstrates a commitment by Governor Murphy, Senate President Scutari, Speaker Coughlin and their colleagues in the Legislature to ensure the safety and security of nonprofit and religious institutions, vital resources to our most vulnerable populations, and support for our nonpublic school students, faculty, and institutions.” said Dov Ben-Shimon, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey. “We are proud to have worked with legislative sponsors throughout the state to equally represent the needs of residents from Bergen County to Camden County and everywhere in between.”
For the first time, this state budget commits $1 million to be allocated specifically for kosher meals within each county’s Meals on Wheels program–a program that provides fresh, daily meals in addition to wellness visits to homebound seniors.
“In New Jersey, many Meals on Wheels customers are Holocaust survivors. Year after year, we have seen this program go underfunded in most counties due to budget cuts and lack of resources. Today, we are proud to secure significant funding that will help homebound seniors throughout New Jersey who keep kosher to have better access to meals,” said Jason Shames, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey.
In addition to access to healthy meals, the FY ’24 budget increases funding for New Jersey’s Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program (HSAP) in the amount of $650,000. This program
provides critical care services to the over 1,000 Holocaust survivors who call New Jersey home.
“We are thrilled to once again increase funding for New Jersey’s Holocaust Survivors Assistance Program in this year’s budget,” said Jennifer Dubrow Weiss, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey. “This funding will allow for continued delivery of vital services to an aging population whose health and wellness challenges have only increased due to varying factors such as the pandemic.”
Last year, Jewish Federations championed advocacy efforts to codify the New Jersey Nonprofit Security Grant Program, ensuring that legislation to make the program permanent was signed into law. Today’s budget builds on this effort by providing $7 million for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, a $2 million increase from last year’s budget.
“With incidents of antisemitism, hate and bigotry on the rise in our state and across the country, I am grateful that this budget continues to prioritize funding to protect high risk nonprofits and religious institutions from threats to their safety and security,” said Susan Antman, executive director of the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey. “Jewish Federations are proud to continue to work closely with State officials including Laurie Doran, the director of New Jersey Office of Homeland Security, to ensure the evolution and growth of this program through the years in order to meet changing threats and needs.”
In addition to the security of nonprofit organizations and religious institutions, the FY ’24 budget also includes $215 per pupil in nonpublic schools specifically earmarked for security funding. This marks a $10 per pupil increase from last year’s budget.
“This funding will help to supply nonpublic schools with the tools to better protect their facilities, students and staff from potential threats and attacks,” said Robin Wishnie, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren Counties. “I am proud of the partnership the Federations have built with legislative leaders across the state to maintain this vital funding in this year’s budget.”
Jewish Federations were also able to secure $500,000 for a Community Security Program to enhance other steps taken to strengthen security resources throughout the state.
Throughout this budget process, JFNJ worked closely with a coalition of multi-faith organizations to ensure expanded access to resources across the state for all walks of life. With this group, JFNJ was able to address the needs of students across the state in this budget. The FY ’24 budget increases per pupil transportation funding to $7 million, while per pupil nonpublic compensatory education increases to $2.5 million along with $1.47 million in funding for nursing in nonpublic schools and $1 million for technology programs within these schools.
“We are especially proud to have worked with legislative sponsors from all corners of the state on each of these programs. By doing this, we could ensure that everyone’s
needs are being met – no matter where in New Jersey they live,” said Harris Laufer, state director, Jewish Federations of New Jersey. “Whether it’s making sure seniors have a healthy dinner every night, or taking concrete steps to make sure our children are safe at school or wherever they may worship, these diverse programs show the core values of the Jewish community and help to make New Jersey a safer, healthier place to live.”