New Jersey Jewish Organizations Gather to Honor Congressman Gottheimer with The Morris Katz Legacy Award

 

On Thursday June 20th, Jewish organizations from across New Jersey gathered to honor Congressman Josh Gottheimer with The Morris Katz Legacy Award. The event, held in Teaneck, New Jersey, brought together a diverse group of community leaders from throughout New Jersey and beyond to celebrate Congressman Gottheimer’s commitment to serving his constituents and supporting the Jewish community by introducing the HEAL ACT, a Nationwide Holocaust Education Bill.

The Morris Katz Foundation Legacy Award is named in honor of Morris Katz, a Holocaust survivor who dedicated his life to promoting unity and understanding among people of different backgrounds.

The prestigious award, named after the prolific artist, was presented by the Morris Katz Foundation, together with the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce honors individuals who have made significant contributions to promoting education, combating antisemitism and fostering a sense of gratitude and appreciation for the U.S.

Among the esteemed guests in attendance were Assemblyman Avi Schnall, Shlomo Schorr, Director of Legislative Affairs for Agudah Yisroel of America’s New Jersey office, and Edan Blank, Jewish Outreach liaison to Governor Phil Murphy. Also present were Brandi Katz Rubin, Deputy Regional Director of the New York/New Jersey Region of the Anti-Defamation League, Tal Shuster, Chairwoman of the Israeli American Council Jersey City, and Rabbi Yisroel Kahan, Senior Associate Regional Director and Liaison to the Orthodox Community for the Anti-Defamation League.

The event also attracted representatives from various government bodies and community organizations. Ryan Fox, Chief of Staff for Choose NJ, Josh Berliner, Executive Director of the NJ Israel Commission, and Hadar Weiss, Community Engagement Manager of the Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey were among those in attendance. Robyn, President of the Jersey City Jewish Association, and Hillary Goldberg, Councilwoman for the Township of Teaneck, NJ, also joined in the celebration.

Teaneck Deputy Mayor Elie Y Katz and Commissioner Avraham Eisenman of the Clifton NJ Board of Adjustment were present to show their support for Congressman Gottheimer. Chana Shields of the Bergen County Jewish Action Center, James Kim, Chairman of the Operations Board for the Korean American Chamber of Commerce USA, and Joseph Yoo of the Korean American Business Association were also in attendance. Gil Cygler, Vice President of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and Tom Bergeron, Editor of ROI-NJ.

The diverse group of attendees reflected the broad and inclusive support for Congressman Gottheimer and his efforts in representing the Jewish community in New Jersey.

During the ceremony, Congressman Gottheimer was praised for his dedication to promoting unity and understanding among different communities. His work in advocating for the needs of his constituents and standing up for the values of compassion and inclusivity was commended by all in attendance. The award was a testament to his leadership and commitment to serving the people of New Jersey with integrity and empathy.

In his acceptance speech, Congressman Gottheimer expressed his gratitude for the honor and reaffirmed his commitment to continue fighting for justice, equality, and unity. He emphasized the importance of coming together as a community and a nation to address the challenges facing our society and to build a brighter future for all.

The award was presented by the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce leadership and the Morris Katz Foundation started with opening remarks by NJ Assemblyman Avi Schnell, in recognition of the Congressman’s outstanding work of carrying over the artist message of never again by introducing on Capitol Hill the Holocaust Education and Antisemitism Lessons Act, better known as the HEAL Act.

Previous Morris Katz Legacy award recipients where Israel’s President Isaac Herzog which was presented to the President at the Presidential residence in Jerusalem for his contribution to fighting Global Anti Semitism and Holocaust denial while promoting appreciation to the United states government leadership as well as Congressman Chris Smith for his bill introducing and creating the global position of U.S. Envoy for Anti Semitism and now upped it to ambassador.

Katz, a Holocaust survivor, is best known for his collection of paintings of U.S. presidents — an effort he undertook to show his gratitude for being able to live in peace in the democratic U.S. after World War II. The artist undertook Painting all U.S. Presidents to demonstrate his appreciation to the United States immediately after the Assassination of President Kennedy as he saw it as an attack on his freedom, democracy and the leaders of the free world.

The significance of the award — and its connection to the present-day turmoil around the world — was not lost on Gottheimer.

Gottheimer said “Morris Katz got this,” telling the crowd at the ceremony. “In painting the American presidents, Morris understood the history of our great country — our democracy, our values, what we fight for and stand up for.

It’s critical to America’s national security, to our fight against terror, to our support for the democracy in the region,” he said. “It’s about our values that we support, and the fight against terror (groups), who continue to attack the United States of America.

“It’s about making sure that we, as a community, stick together, stand up and make sure that everybody understands what this is about: hate,” he said. “It’s about standing up to all forms of hate, whether it’s antisemitism or Islamophobia.

“Our job — and I can’t say this enough — is to make sure young people understand what our history is. Not just Jewish American history, or the U.S.-Israel relationship, but all history, so they understand what actually happened.” I can’t emphasize enough the importance of combating disinformation with education, stating that it is a daily struggle that must be fought.”

Assemblyman Avi Schnell made the opening remarks thanking the Congressman for his staunch support on behalf of the Jewish community and his leadership fighting anti Semitism stating it’s a privilege and opportunity to have someone as Congressman Josh Gottheimer in our state delegation who fights for our causes.

By uniting Jewish and non Jewish leadership group’s to stand together saying thank you demonstrates our unconditional appreciation to the Congressman and his leadership fighting against hatred in all its forms stated Duvi Honig founder and CEO of the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce who spearheaded the event.

“Congressman Gottheimer is well known as one of the staunchest fighters in the battle against hate in the state and especially in recent months, as bias crimes against Jews are skyrocketing across New Jersey,” said Shlomo Schorr, Director of Legislative Affairs for Agudath Israel of America’s New Jersey office. “We congratulate the Congressman on this well deserved honor,” Schorr added.

In addition to recognizing Congressman Gottheimer’s achievements, the event also served as a platform for discussing the ongoing challenges facing the Jewish community in New Jersey and beyond. The rise in bias crimes and anti-Semitic incidents has been a concerning trend, prompting the need for increased education, awareness, and advocacy. By coming together to honor the Congressman and discuss these important issues, the event reinforced the importance of unity and collaboration in addressing the challenges facing the community.

Morris Katz, the late Polish-American artist, was famously known as the Einstein of the world of Art for winning two Guinness World Records and inventing a new form of art called “Instant Art,”. However his most notable collection, painted in his lifetime, was his world famous US Presidential Collection which was painted by Morris immediately after President Kennedy’s assasination as a message of appreciation to the United States democracy and its leaders who gave him a home and his freedom after the Holocaust. The U.S. President Collection took Katz six years to complete, with each portrait meticulously painted in the old master style, featuring the U.S. flag with the correct number of stars per state or colony under each president.

Despite the collection being kept private for many years, the Orthodox Jewish Chamber of Commerce has successfully incorporated it into the State of New Jersey’s Department of Education and is now working to integrate it into classrooms nationwide and teach young people about the Holocaust. The collection, valued North of $150 million which is of institutional level, serves as a powerful reminder of patriotism and the importance of understanding and appreciating American history. Millions of Postcards were sold of these paintings over the years.

The host committee included Senator Gordon Johnson, Assemblyman Avi Schnell, Teaneck Deputy Mayor Elie Y Katz, Orthodox Jewish Chamber committee member Tzvi Gross, Moshe Gross, Orthodox Jewish Chamber Ambassador Moshe Kinderleher, publisher of the Jewish Link who sponsored the awards Breakfast.

[Press Release]

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2 COMMENTS

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