Staten Island Council of Jewish Organizations Hosts 55th Legislative Breakfast - The Jewish Voice
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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Staten Island Council of Jewish Organizations Hosts 55th Legislative Breakfast

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Staten Island Council of Jewish Organizations Hosts 55th Legislative Breakfast


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This past Sunday, October 23, at the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island, located in the Seaview section of the borough, the Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island (COJO) hosted its 55th Annual Legislative breakfast, the first since the pandemic. Over 350 people, including some prominent names in the political, civic, and communal world were in attendance. Fresh hot bagels, loads of pastries and hot coffee was the order of the day, as COJO the borough’s central coordinating agency for its 60,000 strong Jewish residents engaged the public as has been its tradition since its founding in June of 1967.

COJO recognized Senator Diane Savino and Assemblyman Michael Cusick for their years of dedicated service to Staten Island. COJO also honored its highly respected, esteemed, and venerable CEO and Executive Vice-President Scott Maurer on his 10th anniversary with the Council and Iva Reuven, chairperson of the COJO Service Committee and members of her hardworking team for their arduous efforts over the course of the pandemic and beyond.

“Today is an emotional day for us at COJO,” remarked Mendy Mirocznik, the Council’s president. “Today’s breakfast is our first in person organizational event since the day that Covid changed the world that we once knew.  We recognize Senator Savino and Assemblyman Cusick and thank them for their contributions to Staten Island. When you close your eyes, 20 years of public service in retrospect seems like the blink of an eye. In actuality, within that blink, we’ve experienced accomplishments of great public servants whose impact have made an indelible difference for this Island. As president of COJO, I humbly thank them and wish them luck as they embark on new chapters in their lives.”

Mirocznik, further thanked “Scott Maurer, as being the champion of COJO. Scott truly is Mr. COJO. Whether it is managing COJO, its food pantry, staff or fighting hate, anti-Semitism, racism, and bigotry as Co-Chairman of Richmond County District Attorney Michael McMahon’s Hate Crime Task Force. Always available around the clock to assist COJO and all the residents of Staten Island in any way he can, Scott is a leader with vision and a heart of gold who cares about people and community. There is no task that is too difficult or simple for him to tackle. If it comes to Scott’s attention he takes a jump at it with no fanfare and gets the job done. Perhaps the greatest challenge was the pandemic, and we appreciate how Scott coordinated COJO’s response which helped so many people.

Although, it may be 10 years to be precise, from pre-pandemic to today Scott Maurer has tackled an immense amount of obstacles with positive community outcomes. From the Israel rally on the boardwalk to helping seniors and the homebound during the pandemic to a simple phone call to a senior to leading a community meeting, Scott has  made such a positive imprint for the better. Today we say thank you and look forward to the future. We may be unable to forecast tomorrow, but we know no matter what is in store for us Scott will get us through it. His secret weapon is his loving heart and generous spirit.”

Mirocznik, then thanked Iva Reuven and her hardworking industrious and diverse Service Committee. About 3 years ago with the advent of COJO, Iva came to volunteer. Who would imagine 3 years later she would have organized an army of great community activists who care about helping people get through Covid and challenges they face. Iva made a mission impossible a reality. Her collaboration with Project Hospitality, its President Terry Troia and its Director of Volunteers Gloria Novoa is legendary. Iva recruited a team that has become a family.

They gather on Wednesday nights at the Aur Torah Sephardic Minyan of Staten Island, pack up food packages and dish out love and optimism to countless Staten Islanders. Her phone rings off the clock and she and her team spring into action at once. We cannot count the home visits and all the help Iva gave and continues to give. As tragic as it was during the height of the pandemic, we witnessed Iva assemble a loving team of volunteers that has the capability of taking on the challenges presented to the world. Today we thank Iva and her team, and you should know it is this winning team that makes the difference. Thank you Iva, we cannot thank you enough.“

Mirocznik concluded by thanking the NYPD as  important members and partners with COJO. “Although during the pandemic law enforcement may have witnessed a cold spell. We want the NYPD to know that COJO stood with you at the coldest times and will always stand with the NYPD and law enforcement. COJO truly values the selflessness of the NYPD and their help, partnership, and collaboration with us during the pandemic and beyond.. Today we thank the NYPD and want you to know that our resilience and positive transition to a healthy world was accomplished in large part by the efforts of law enforcement and the NYPD. COJO looks forward to furthering this relationship and helping to accomplish much more in the coming years working as partners in enhancing the quality of life for all Staten Islanders.”

The following elected officials and candidates running for office attended the legislative breakfast. Attorney General Tish James, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Assemblyman Michael Cusick, Vincent Argenziano and Sam Pirozzolo running to replace Assemblyman Cusick. Assemblyman Michael Tannousis, Assemblyman Michael Reilly and Queens Assemblyman David Weprin, Congress Member Nicole Malliotakis, and her challenger former Congressman Max Rose. Joe Pinion, candidate for United States Senate, Council Member Joe Borelli, and Richmond County Public Administrator Edwina Martin. Judicial Supreme court candidates Criminal Court Judge Ann Thompson and Civil Court Judge Brandon Lantry. Civil Court candidates Matthew Santamauro and Mary Kavanaugh. Mayor Eric Adams was represented by Ed Jackson, New York City Council Speaker Adrianna Adams was represented by Pesach Osina and New York City Comptroller was represented by Pinny Hikind.

The following community leaders were in attendance Hon. Asaf Zamir, Israeli consul general in New York, Hon. Israel Nitzan, deputy Israeli consul general in New York, Howard Pollack, director,  Community Affairs, Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC-NY), Louis P. Welz, CEO, COJO of Flatbush, Shulamis Shapiro, director, Social Services, COJO of Flatbush, Aaron Cyperstein, managing director, Legal & External Affairs, Met Council, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice-president, New York Board of Rabbis, Rabbi Leonard Blank, vice-president, Professional Development and External Affairs, Rabbinical Alliance of America, Rabbi Yeruchem Silber, director, New York Government Relations, Agudath Israel of America, Rabbi Avrohom Hecht, executive director, Jewish Community Council of Canarsie, Imam Dr. Tahir Kukai,  NYPD Department Chaplain and Albanian Cultural Center, Rev. Dr. Terry Troia, president, Project Hospitality and Jonathan Dembitzer, secretary, Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula.


The following top brass of the NYPD was in attendance. NYPD Staten Island Borough Commander Chief Gin Yee, Lt. Joseph Abdelmessih, Community Outreach/ Community Affairs Bureau; Detective Mohammed Amen, Community Outreach/ Community Affairs Bureau, Lt. Rafet Awad, commanding officer, community affairs, Patrol Borough Staten Island, Captain Eric Waldhelm, commanding officer, Pct. 121, Inspector Timothy Wilson, commanding officer, Pct. 122.



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