Flanked by legislative sponsors and Jewish communal leaders, NJ Gov. Jon Corzine signs the bill establishing the NJ-Israel Commission as a permanent body of the Department of State, on Dec. 22.
Photos by Lori Silberman Brauner
December 25, 2008
Twenty years after former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean signed a sister-state agreement between his state and Israel, the current governor, Jon Corzine, formalized the New Jersey-Israel Commission’s status as a permanent partnership.
At a ceremony held the first day of Hanukka, Corzine signed S-2240/A-3162, legislation establishing the commission as a permanent body within the Department of State. He also signed a measure congratulating Israel on its 60th anniversary.
The NJIC, which promotes trade, science and technology, tourism, and cultural and economic exchanges, was established as a temporary commission in 1989 to honor Israel’s 40th anniversary.
Each governor since Kean has extended the commission by executive order. The bill — sponsored by state Senators Loretta Weinberg and Robert M. Gordon (both D-Bergen) and Assembly members Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen), Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Gary S. Schaer (D-Bergen/Essex/Passaic), Declan J. O’Scanlon Jr. (R-Mercer/Monmouth), Caroline Casagrande (R-Mercer/Monmouth), and Caridad Rodriguez (D-Hudson) — ensures its permanent status.
Daniel Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and Egypt, serves as chair of the NJIC.
“I’m very honored to be able to sign these pieces of legislation,” Corzine said at the gathering, held at the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey in Paramus. “The relationship between our two societies is enormous.”
Israel ranked as New Jersey’s ninth-largest trading partner in 2007, up from 22nd in 2006, according to the governor’s office.
Max Kleinman, executive vice president of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ and a 13-year member of the NJIC, said permanent status lends the commission not only symbolic significance but practical value. “It’s not subject to the political vagaries of the day,” he said.
“There are a lot of common synergies between Israel and New Jersey,” said Leonard Posnock of Monroe Township, a past commission cochair. Noting Israel’s strength in research and New Jersey’s strong manufacturing base, he called the partnership a “natural business alliance.”
Also in attendance were Roy Tanzman and Jacob Toporek, president and executive director, respectively, of the NJ Association of Jewish Federations.