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

The Best Job in the World

I still have the best job in the world.

A few months ago, I was privileged to share with you in this space some of the ways Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey supports the entire Jewish community. I promised to explore how the Federation specifically helps the Orthodox Jewish community in that article. Today, we will look at a few recent initiatives.

As reported in The Jewish Link, more than 3,000 people marched and gathered in Teaneck on June 6 for the “Unite for Israel” parade. Although the event was organized by a grassroots group of residents, Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey was heavily involved. We filed the required special events permit, arranged for tax-deductible donations and secured an insurance rider to enable cars to park close to the event. The Federation provided logistical guidance and organizational backing to ensure the event’s success.

We support and fund many programs to assist Jews with hunger insecurity by providing access to warm meals, food pantries, hot holiday meals and Kosher Meals on Wheels, which are delivered to those that are homebound. During the pandemic, the kosher food pantry went from serving about 60 people to serving over 700 people.

The Federation is also instrumental in supporting our Orthodox Jewish day schools. In addition to direct financial assistance to the schools, Federation makes many in-kind contributions. These include financial incentives and cost-saving programs through our kehilla cooperative. Most recently, many schools have benefitted from group purchasing for health insurance, expertise on security measures, and workshops on security training. Before the start of this past school year, Federation provided temperature scanners to the schools to keep them during the early months of the pandemic.

Over the past several months, I have had the honor of meeting with the heads of the day schools in northern New Jersey to discuss how the Federation can further enhance its support of this vital school system.

The most disturbing development in the Jewish community is the increase in antisemitic incidents. Of course, antisemitism is not limited to attacks on the Orthodox, but the sad fact is that we are disproportionately affected simply because we are more outwardly recognizable as Jews. According to the FBI, attacks on Jews in the United States account for more than 60% of religiously motivated hate crimes, even though Jews represent about 2% of the population. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the number of antisemitic incidents last year was the third highest since the ADL started keeping statistics in 1979.

I am proud to share that Federation is in the process of creating a new position that will focus on combating antisemitism and building coalitions. As Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey’s Chief Executive Officer Jason Shames stated, “The idea is to have a staff member devoted to standing up against antisemitism, providing education and resources to the community, and building relationships with other community groups so that we can find common ground and respect with other racial, ethnic and religious groups in our community.”

Hillel warned in Pirkei Avot: “Do not separate yourself from the community.” The Rav, Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, wrote that Judaism “sees every person as an independent individual and also as part of a community, a limb of the body of Israel.”

Federation is here for the community—whenever and wherever we are needed. I would love to hear your ideas about what else we can do to help. Please drop me a line at [email protected].

Thank you!

By Mindy Berman

 

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