The American Jewish Congress recently inaugurated Wyckoff resident Richard Gordon as president of the almost 90-year-old Jewish advocacy and defense organization.
At his April ‘9 inauguration at the AJCongress convention in Washington, Gordon, a partner in the New York office of the Atlanta-based law firm McKenna Long & Aldrich LLP, promised to build on the work of outgoing president Jack Rosen, crediting him for getting him involved nine years ago. During his three-year term, Gordon said he wants to focus on strengthening AJC and its chapters.
One AJCongress chapter was singled out at convention: the Bergen County chapter, which was honored as the oldest chapter in the country. Although Gordon said his involvement has been solely on the national level, he said he looks to Bergen County as an example for strengthening the entire organization.
"They seem to have figured it out," he told The Jewish Standard on Monday. "They are one of the leading chapters."
Gordon said he has four issues he wants to focus on. One area is building bridges with the moderate Muslim community.
"It’s very important for American Jews and American Muslims to have a strong dialogue," he said. "As our children and grandchildren grow up, they’ll need to understand each other better and the only way is through dialogue and understanding."
Other issues on Gordon’s agenda include an international campaign about terrorists’ use of human shields and confronting growing anti-Semitism, particularly in France.
"We have seen the rise of anti-Semitism around the world in a lot of places," he said. "That’s something that needs our continued attention."
Even though many do not see energy concerns as "a Jewish issue," he said, AJCongress should do what it can to encourage the United States to work toward energy independence as a way of furthering a pro-Israel foreign policy.
"It’s a massive Jewish issue," he said. "If America is free to purchase energy from sources other than dictators around the world who are anti-Israel, it liberates us on the foreign policy level."
Gordon also wants to strengthen individual AJCongress chapters.
"If we make progress on the substantive issues coupled with growing the region and the chapters, I’d feel we accomplished a lot," he said.
Gordon has served on the organiztion’s executive committee and governing council. Before becoming president, he spent three years as vice chair of the governing council.
He also served as director of policy and planning for Indiana Gov. Evan Bayh and executive director of the Friends of Mario M. Coumo, and in 199′ he was appointed a Clinton/Gore member of the Democratic National Committee’s platform committee.
"It is important we give something back to our community," he said. "I have always felt that that is one of the prime things we can do."
Gordon lives in Wyckoff with his wife, Laurie, and two sons, Harrison and Jason. They attend Temple Beth Rishon. Gordon, who had his own law firm for six years, joined McKenna Long & Aldrich in December.
AJCongress’s full-time professional leadership allows Gordon to balance his communal responsibilities with his work and family, he said.
"You bring great people in both full time and lay leaders and make it part of your day," he said. "If it’s important to you, you make it happen. And it’s important to me."