The New Jersey Department of Jewish War Veterans made its annual visit to Capitol Hill earlier this month, where members of the group met with Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.) to lobby for a Jewish chaplains’ memorial in Arlington National Cemetery and federal aid for homeless veterans.
Carl Singer of Passaic, past commander of the Jewish War Veterans for this state and a retired army colonel, told this newspaper that Pascrell has been “very responsive” to the group’s concerns.
“We need permission to have this memorial put in place there, in memory of those Jewish chaplains that died in service,” Singer said. “There are similar ones for those of other religions. It’s a bill that’s long overdue.”
Singer added, “It will not cost the government any money; private citizens have raised funds for it – and veterans’ organizations.”
His organization also lobbied for continued funding of New Jersey’s VA hospitals, nursing homes for veterans, and for a facility – yet to be built – to help homeless veterans, according to Singer.
“Congressman Pascrell is himself a veteran and… you get an extra feeling of empathy from him,” said Singer.
Pascrell reported that the president’s budget proposal increases funding to $949 million for programs benefiting homeless veterans.
Last week, Pascrell joined Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) in sponsoring a resolution honoring the victims of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire and recognizing the impact of the tragedy on national movements to improve conditions for workers.
“The tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire was one of the salient events that taught us that, as Americans, we must be capitalists with consciences,” said Pascrell in a statement. “Women and children, some of them immigrants, perished unnecessarily simply because their employer protected profits instead of people.”
Also last week, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) met with Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States. According to a statement from Menendez’s office, “The two discussed the continuation of the strong bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Israel through and beyond the current crises in the Middle East, as well as the critical importance of deterring Iran’s nuclear ambitions.”
Menendez also released a statement for Purim condemning anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, and elaborated in an e-mail that “[a]nti-Israel vitriol that directly translates into anti-Semitism has seen a resurgence recently. It is both taught and tolerated in many foreign nations. And even here at home, we are seeing an increase in hateful rhetoric against Israel that can’t be tolerated. We are seeing evidence in the media, across university campuses, and in public boycotts and rallies.
“Of all occurrences,” he continued, “the continued incitement against Israel and Jews within the Palestinian media, mosques, and schools is the most concerning. It is time to speak out and say this will not stand.”