Hoboken resident Valerie L. Boccadoro newly elected president of the New Jersey region of the American Jewish Congress chose AJCongress because "I love its history."
"I agree with its approach," she said, noting that the group implements its public policy advocacy through diplomacy, ’3′;legislation, and the courts.
Praising the organization founded by Rabbi Stephen Wise in 1918, Boccadoro, an attorney, pointed out that at one time, "the New Jersey Region was very influential; it played an important part in the early stages of the organization." But over the years, she said, it has become less effective.
"I want to reinvigorate [the region]," said Boccadoro, raised in Woodcliff Lake. "I believe it is more important than ever to involve the next generation in Jewish life and I look forward to generating interest in AJCongress among my peers. I want to put New Jersey back on the map."
One of the issues the regional group will tackle is the need to relinquish dependence on foreign oil, said Boccadoro. "America’s dependence on oil imported from nations whose interests are inimical to our own endangers our security. In New Jersey, this is especially relevant given the amount of money we spend to fuel our cars."
She is also passionate about women’s empowerment. "This is an issue that is very important to me as a woman and as a professional," she said. "Women’s participation in a nation’s political and judicial decision-making is a measure of women’s empowerment, which includes women’s access to justice and involvement in judicial decision-making.
"Luckily for me," she added, "the new director of AJC’s Women’s Division, Meryl Frank, the mayor of Highland Park, is based in my region. I look forward to working with her at the local and national levels to recognize and highlight the contributions of Jewish women as leaders of movements for women’s rights, social justice, and equality."
Boccadoro is no stranger to Israel advocacy, having been active in the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In her new role, she said, she will work to strengthen Israel’s relationship with NATO.
"I intend to work with local and state leaders to lobby for an ‘upgraded’ relationship between NATO and Israel. We must not underestimate the animosity and determination of our enemies in the Middle East who would like nothing better than to destroy the Jewish State. The only way to guarantee Israel’s imminent safety needs is by supporting NATO’s cooperation with and embrace of Israeli interests."
For the most part, said Boccadoro, the New Jersey region will embrace and promote the issues furthered at the organization’s national level. AJCongress President Richard S. Gordon said he is pleased that the New Jersey region "has chosen one of its activists with political and legal experience to further the AJCongress agenda."
According to the group’s Website, that agenda has five major components: the safety and security of Israel and the world Jewish community; fighting to eradicate the new anti-Semitism; preserving religious freedom in the United States through separation of church and state; energy independence and stopping the flow of’3′; petrodollars that fund terrorism; and supporting moderate Muslim countries and prominent’3′; individuals who oppose radical Islam and believe in "enlightened moderation" as the message of Islam.
The organization was created to provide a voice at Versailles for the Jews of Europe whose lives were disrupted by World War I and to establish a mechanism for democratic decision-making for the Jewish community in the United States. It has boasted many prominent members, according to its Website, which notes that Judges Louis Brandeis and Felix Frankfurter, as well as Golda Meier Meyerson, then from Milwaukee, were among its early leaders.
Before entering law school, Boccardo worked as a legislative aide to U.S. Cong. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), then a member of the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Intellectual Property Law, and as assistant finance director to Nadler’s 1994 and 1996 re-election campaigns. She is licensed to practice law in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C.
With a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland at College Park and a J.D. from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, the new regional president received recognition from the City of New York for volunteering legal services to business owners operating below 14th Street in Manhattan in the aftermath of Sept. 11.