Posted on August 3, 2009 In Press Releases

Contact: Howie Beigelman
August 3, 2009

Orthodox Union facilitates key synagogue, day school and communal leadership roundtable in West Orange; gubernatorial hopeful weighs in on school choice, energy and homeland security

Today, Chris Christie, the Republican nominee for New Jersey governor met with Orthodox Jewish leadership from around the state in an issues roundtable facilitated by the Orthodox Union (Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America), the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization. Held at AABJ&D in West Orange, one of the OU’s 52 member congregations in the Garden State, the program featured remarks by Mr. Christie, the former United States Attorney followed by a discussion of key issues critical to the Orthodox community. Orthodox synagogue rabbis and presidents, lay and professional leadership of New Jersey Jewish day schools and community leaders from Bergen, Essex, Morris, Passaic and Union counties were in attendance.

Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler, senior rabbi of host congregation AABJ&D stated:

Orthodox Jewish voters, like others, need to make informed decisions when they cast a vote. There is no better way than to have them hear from the candidates themselves as to where they stand on issues of import to our community. We thank the OU for their work on this and Mr. Christie for coming and being candid; we look forward to continuing this conversation with Governor Corzine.

Mr. Christie reiterated his strong support for the corporate tax credit legislation supported by the Orthodox Union, its constituency statewide and especially Orthodox families in Elizabeth, Lakewood and Passaic. Mr. Christie cited the bi-partisan bill, the New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zone Jobs Scholarship Act, which is sponsored by Senators Lesniak and Kean and Assemblymembers Cruz-Perez, Cryan, O’Scanlon and Webber, as one area he could and would reach across the aisle to work with Democrats. Participants also raised the energy retrofit grant program the OU and others worked with Representatives Waxman and Markey to include in the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, which permits faith based (and other) nonprofits to participate equally in the program and asked if the State could similarly open energy efficiency programs to all, to both protect the environment and stimulate the local economy. Mr. Christie, who mentioned his own “aggressive” alternative energy vision, agreed such programs ought to be “open to all” and would help in establishing New Jersey as a green jobs center. As well, Mr. Christie stated his experiences as New Jersey’s first “post September 11” US Attorney underscored his understanding of the Jewish community’s security needs and he committed to upgrading the State’s homeland security efforts.

Howie Beigelman, OU Deputy Director of Public Policy, whose portfolio includes state government relations stated:

The Jewish community – the Orthodox community particularly – is a swing vote and we are grateful to Mr. Christie for taking the time to air his views with our leadership. We look forward to bringing both campaigns, Christie-Guadagno and Corzine-Weinberg, to our synagogues, schools and families to let us know where they stand on the issues that especially affect Orthodox Jewish communities including equity and aid to day schools, preserving religious liberty and ensuring our safety and security.


Note to Editors: The Orthodox Union is a nonpartisan organization and neither endorses candidates or contributes to campaigns. A similar leadership meeting with Governor Corzine is being planned. The OU has a long history of elected officials, candidates for public office and other notables speaking to their leadership, including Samuel Alito, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Alberto Gonzalez, Al Gore, Tom Kean, Jr., Robert Menendez, George Pataki, Dean Skelos, Bill Thompson and numerous members of Congress in recent years as well as surrogates of both McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden during the 2008 presidential election.