The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) has a longstanding partnership with UJA-Federation of New York, so much so that the former hosted their annual congressional breakfast in the Midtown East UJA Conference Center, just a couple blocks from the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge. The past Sunday morning’s annual gathering of New York’s congressional representatives, senators, and elected officials, as well as citywide community stakeholders, was a resounding success. The breakfast succeeded in allowing our Federal representatives to showcase their perspectives and answer questions about issues relevant to the New York Jewish community.

Since our inception 500 issues ago, the Queens Jewish Link has tried to cover many of these legislative matters to give our readership a front-row seat to insightful conversations on the state of relations between the United States and Israel as well as Federal issues affecting the residents of New York.

“We bring together Jewish community leaders from New York City, Long Island, Westchester,” began Bennett W. Golub, JCRC-NY President, in his opening remarks as the morning took off explaining the focus on communal priorities organized in partnership with the UJA-Federation. This followed by a welcome statement from Eric S. Goldstein, CEO, UJA-Federation of New York. “The shared work between Israel and the U.S. is so critical for the people of our two countries,” stressing Ambassador Asaf Zamir, Consul General of Israel in New York, who assumed the podium acknowledging the significant US-Israel alliance and the Congressional trips that the JCRC-NY has hosted to Israel.

Following a decades-long tradition from the era of Rabbi Michael Miller, who now represents the JCRC-NY as its CEO Emeritus, the morning was dedicated to the advocacy of our Congressional leaders and their diverse allies, with notable presentations by Cheryl Fishbein, Chair of the Board of JCRC-NY, awarded to Hon. Yvette D. Clarke, Hon. Anthony D’Espositio, Hon. Adriano Espaillat, Hon. Hakeem Jeffries, Hon. Mike Lawler, Hon. Gregory W. Meeks, Hon. Grace Meng, and Hon. Jerrold Nadler. “The amount of work done by the staff is enormous,” explained Gideon Taylor, JCRC-NY’s CEO and Executive Vice President in his closing remarks, bringing light to the relationship and positive encouragement forged by their bridging powers.

“You can’t fence off bigotry,” stated Senator Charles Schumer, Majority Leader of United States Senate, on the importance of combating anti-Semitism in his special address. “An attack on the Jewish community is an attack on all of us,” added Rep. Jeffries, House Minority Leader. Resolutely, Jeffries sided with our values. “It’s important to recognize Israel as a place that is and always shall be a Jewish and democratic state” The program, “a must-attend” function for those in the know on Jewish matters, honored Congress Member Meeks (who was just announced as the QJL Cornerstone Awardee at our upcoming Parnassah and Networking Expo for his work on airport redevelopment) and Congress Member Grace Meng, who has made a name for herself standing up for Jewish ideals well before other legislators. “Peace cannot come from inside a bomb shelter,” she acknowledged of the US-Israel peace process.

Like their colleagues, they pledged to ensure that the Shoah is remembered with education and programming focused on the reasons why we must never forget the horrors that occurred. The New York City Council was represented by Council Members Eric Dinowitz, Chair of NYC Council Jewish Caucus; Julie Menin; Linda Lee; Lynn Schulman; and Selvena Brooks-Powers, while the New York State Assembly had elected officials like Daniel Rosenthal and David Weprin as their reps. Other topics that were on the minds of our leaders were issues like school choice and safety for our targeted communities.

Attendees included Queens Borough President Melinda Katz; Judge Ruchie Freier, who was just elected to serve as the first Chassidic on the New York State Supreme Court; Israel Nitzan, Deputy Consul General of Israel in New York; Angel Angelov, Consulate General of Bulgaria; Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, Executive Vice President, Rabbinical Alliance of America; Pesach Osina, Jewish liaison to Adrienne Adams, Speaker of NYC Council; Mark Levine, Manhattan Borough President; David Greenfield, CEO of Met Council; and Pinny Hikind, Special Assistant to New York City Comptroller Brad Lander. Thanks is extended to Howard M. Pollack, Director of Community Affairs of JCRC-NY, and their Communication Director Tzipporah Shapiro for keeping Queens connected throughout the year.

 By Shabsie Saphirstein,
Photos by Saul Joseph of Universe Promotions