COJO Flatbush Holds Annual Legislative Breakfast

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaking as COJO Flatbush CEO Louis Welz (L) and President Moshe Zakheim look on. (Emes Productions)

(COJO Flatbush) — The COJO Flatbush annual Community Legislative Breakfast drew close to 1,200 guests – including many of the city and state’s political, communal, business, and religious leaders – to Brooklyn’s Kol Yaakov Hall last week.

“Our services,” said COJO CEO Louis Welz, “are supported by elected officials through government programs and discretionary funding, and subsidized by communal and philanthropic contributions, so the breakfast provides us an opportunity to showcase our growing menu of services – particularly in such areas as Adult Education, Summer Youth Employment, Immigration Law, Free Tax Prep, and pre-holiday Food Distributions.”

Welz added that he takes particular satisfaction in COJO’s “track record of transforming lives and creating opportunities for all segments of our communities – and I say ‘segments’ because while our offices sit in a predominantly Jewish area, our clients come from just about every racial, ethnic, and religious group in New York.”

That inclusiveness was stressed by the breakfast’s award presenters and honorees, including City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (Distinguished Public Leadership Award), who praised COJO for “programming that goes beyond borders and allows us to unite as one,” and Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso (Distinguished Leadership Award), who made the point that in “helping those who need help…COJO assists folks outside the Jewish community” as well as those within it.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer addressed the crowd in personal and at times emotional terms, noting that “I was there when COJO was founded and I’ve been with you ever since, and have tried never to miss a breakfast.”

A lesson he learned from his father was to “always help people who need help – that is tzedakah, charity, one of the highest things anyone can do.” With that in mind, of all the billions of dollars Congress has allocated to New York City, “the thing I’m proudest of,” he said, “is all the money I got for the Jewish community – yeshivas, non-profits, security grants, etc.”

The heightened need for security grants has been necessitated by the rise in violent antisemitic hate crimes. Rep. Yvette Clarke (Distinguished Statesmanship Award), said, “As a congressional representative of some of our nation’s most esteemed and oldest Jewish communities…I’ve unfortunately become all too acquainted with the delusional and wicked brand of bigotry and hatred that unfortunately you all know too tragically…. We in Congress simply must do more to defend our communities …Violence and discrimination against the Jewish communities of America and around the world will never be accepted and never be tolerated.”

COJO Flatbush  has assisted more than 30,000 people with over 65,000 services in the past year. “By highlighting these accomplishments,” said Director of Social Services (and Breakfast Coordinator) Shulamis Shapiro, who’s always looking for food distribution volunteers, “our goal is to inspire more involvement and assistance, which will enable us to change the lives of even more individuals.”

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