By: Shimmy Blum
On Wednesday evening, the ground floor of Bell Works, the cavernous, two million square foot business and retail “metroburb” in Holmdel, NJ hosted a special tribute to the State of New Jersey. The Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce was paying tribute to the state for its leadership against the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement that aims to destroy Israeli businesses and those who trade with the Jewish State.
The decor, cuisine and ambiance were of the most elite, five star variety – what you would expect at an official State Dinner. Indeed, as explained by Duvi Honig, Founder and CEO of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce, the honorees and attendees deserve no less. The by-invitation-only crowd featured state legislators; elected officials at the municipal level; business leaders; community activists representing groups such as the New Jersey-Israel Alliance, Agudath Israel, the Jewish Federation, and more; members of the media; and other dignitaries. “What the State did on behalf of our community and the economy was special, and we are pleased to be able to give back in the most honorable way,” Mr. Honig says.
The ceremony was sponsored by Bell Works, which is led by Mr. Ralph Zucker of Somerset Development. Mr. Zucker is a member of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce’s Economic Development Committee and the New Jersey-Israel Commission, which was instrumental in the passage of the BDS legislation. Mr. Zucker is a major fixture of innovation and economic stimulus in the State of New Jersey, and is particularly noted for launching the ambitious Bell Works project.
Indeed, this magnificent event honored a truly historic development. Last summer, the New Jersey legislature overwhelmingly passed legislation that prohibited funds from the state’s $71 billion pension from being invested in companies that engage in BDS activity. This legislation is unique in that it is not merely a ceremonial resolution or condemnation, but one with real “teeth” and enforcement power. Governor Chris Christie signed the bill in August at a highly publicized ceremony, the governor’s first public signing ceremony in two years.
In particular, the event paid tribute to the governor and a long list of legislators who were instrumental in making the bill a reality. Assemblyman Gary Schaer, Chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee and the state’s only Orthodox Jewish legislator; and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji; represented their colleagues at the dinner by accepting awards and delivering powerful addresses. Senate President Stephen Sweeney, another major force behind the bill, was unable to personally attend due to a scheduling conflict. He was represented by his Senior Counselor, Jason J. Redd. Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi, a major fixture of Israel advocacy on the international scene, penned an official letter of appreciation in honor of the event and its honorees.
The fact that such a powerful bill was…