BY JOE MARVILLI
The Queens Jewish Community Council held a legislative breakfast over the weekend, pledging to continue its support of the Borough, with the help of elected officials.
Taking place at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, the breakfast was an opportunity for the organization to welcome new members of the City government and to touch base with some long-time supporters. Besides discussing its own commitments to the neighborhoods that were listed on each table, the QJCC had elected officials take part in a Q&A with the audience.
The Community Council, led by president Warren Hecht and executive director Cynthia Zalisky, has been committed to serving the needs of the people of Queens since 1968. It provides social services, cultural programming and educational forums for seniors, immigrants and low-income residents of the Borough. As part of its fight against hunger, the QJCC distributes more than 1,300 Kosher packages per month through its food pantry and 2,400 Kosher prepared food packages per month through Meals-on-Wheels. It also helps individuals apply for medical insurance, Medicare, immigrant services and food stamps.
“Our highest value is what it means to care for those most needy,” Roberta Leiner, vice president of agency relations at the UJA Federation of New York, said. UJA is an affiliate of the QJCC. “The diversity of Queens and the challenges ahead of us really demands that there’s a coordinated and a collaborative effort.”
The elected officials who attended the breakfast praised the QJCC for its community efforts and recommitted themselves to helping Queens.
“I am committed to working in this Borough and in this community to make sure our audits are razor-focused on the issues that impact people,” Comptroller Scott Stringer said.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz was equally committed to fighting for Queens and continuing the office’s strong relationship with the QJCC.
“There are different needs, different resources, different communities, different traditions and I am proud of that,” she said. “My relationship with the Queens Jewish Community Council goes back two decades. As I continue in that office, it will be open to every single one of you.”
Two of the Borough’s new councilmen also promised to keep their doors open for the QJCC.
“It’s so important to have an organization like the Queens Jewish Community Council to be a voice for the Jewish community here in Queens,” Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) said. Lancman is a former board member of the QJCC.
“We’ll show the strength of not only the Jewish community but of Queens,” Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Whitestone) added.
U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) spent her time at the podium discussing what she had done during the past year to better serve the people of Queens. She expressed her opposition to the interim six-month deal that President Barack Obama’s administration struck with the Iranian government. The agreement would have Iran curtail its nuclear enrichment in exchange for eased sanctions.
“I have not been a supporter of this deal. I think that it will lead to further enrichment by Iran and potentially destroy a powerful sanctions regime that has taken years to build,” she said.
Several councilmembers took part in a Q&A session with written questions being submitted by the audience. Two of the biggest topics were the state of member items in the City Council and how to prevent anti-Semitism.
On the former, both Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens) and Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said they do not think member items should be eliminated. Rather, they said they want the system to have further protections against abuse and for the distribution to be equal for all council districts.
On anti-Semitism, Dromm said the topic was important to him, due to the hate crimes struck against the LBGT community as well. While he did work on the education committee to push the Dept. of Education towards a curriculum that teaches equality and respect for all, the only class available at the moment is optional.
“We need a comprehensive tolerance curriculum in our New York City public schools,” he said.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.