QJCC applauds Meeks for Raoul Wallenberg bill

Queens Jewish Community Council Executive Director Cynthia Zalisky (seated c.) poses with Queens city, state and federal elected officials. Photo by Rebecca Henely
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The Queens Jewish Community Council honored U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-Jamaica) at its well-attended legislative breakfast Sunday, but the event was tempered by the announcement that the group had lost all its Citymeals-on-Wheels funding for its kosher weekend meal deliveries.

Meeks received recognition at the breakfast, held at Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, at 70-11 150th St., for co-sponsoring a bill to award Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat, the Congressional Gold Medal for saving hundreds of thousands of Jews in Nazi-occupied Hungary. The award was delivered last year on the 100th anniversary of the hero’s birth.

The congressman spoke with admiration about what Wallenberg did and also praised the QJCC for helping people. The organization, based in Forest Hills, provides social services and advocates for Queens Jews and the state of Israel.

“I look forward to continuing to walk with you hand-in-hand,” Meeks said.

The QJCC said it was facing trouble as the Citymeals-on-Wheels program wrote the council a letter saying that as of Feb. 1 it would no longer provide any funds for the QJCC’s weekend kosher meal delivery program. The program delivers four meals to 130 homebound seniors each weekend, and Citymeals-on-Wheels paid for two of those meals.

The letter came as bad news in light of recent funding losses.

“Our public contributions have been cut as have other organizati­ons’,” said Michael Cohen, one of the co-presenters at the event.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-Hauppauge), a critic of federal subsidies for the farming and oil industries, said he was disgusted that the QJCC and other organizations had trouble getting funds in light of subsidies for rich industries.

“Our priorities in Congress have to change,” he said.

More than a dozen legislators at the federal, state and city levels from both major political parties attended the breakfast. They answered questions ranging from subway safety in light of the two deaths last month of Elmhurst men who had been pushed in front of trains to gun control to potential tax incentives for private schools, such as yeshivas.

Cynthia Zalisky, the QJCC executive director, said the breakfast was an opportunity to thank the elected officials as well as introduce members to newly elected officials like state Assembly members Ron Kim (D-Flushing) and Nily Rozic (D-Hillcrest), as well as Israel, a longtime Long Island congressman whose district was redrawn to include Bay Terrace and Whitestone.

“You are our friends,” she said. “You are our angels.”

Zalisky said that after Superstorm Sandy, the QJCC has had to help people from southeast Queens who may be living with family members in central Queens or who needed services. She asked the elected officials not to forget the group.

City Comptroller John Liu and others said the organization helps not just Jews in Queens, but all residents.

“The QJCC does great work on behalf of the diverse communities in Queens,” he said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4564.

Updated 3:51 pm, January 17, 2013
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Reader feedback

DCMontreal from Montreal says:
Wallenberg stamp issued today. Honorary Canadian and Montreal citizen
Jan. 17, 2013, 7:41 am

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