The Anti-Defamation League is assuring New Jersey’s Jewish community there will be no break in its battles against bias and anti-Semitism, despite its reassignment of Etzion Neuer, the state’s regional director, to a new post as director of community service and policy for the ADL’s New York region.
Neuer quietly assumed his new position this summer after seven years as the organization’s chief representative in New Jersey.
Since July, he has supervised a staff of three people working out of the ADL’s Manhattan offices.
“We deal with issues of civil rights, responding to anti-Semitism, interfaith relations, and international issues, including the Middle East and how Israeli-Palestinian tensions are played out on the area’s college campuses,” Neuer explained in a Dec. 27 telephone interview.
Although no replacement for Neuer has yet been chosen, a search is under way. “We are still seeking a replacement for Etzion,” said Robert Wolfson, the ADL’s associate national director for regional operations. “We continue to look for the right person to take over. We are committed to the community.”
Both said the ADL remains intent on monitoring anti-Semitism in New Jersey.
“There is no question it is an important community,” said Wolfson. “I certainly don’t want to pretend that not having a person means that we have exactly the same coverage as we do when we have a full-time employee. That would be disingenuous.
“But,” Wolfson added, “we are certainly committed to New Jersey. We would close the office if we felt it was the appropriate thing to do, but we are not going to do that.”
Neuer’s reassignment came after a five-year period during which the national ADL faced a 30 percent drop in contributions, or more than $20 million annually, according to a Dec. 9 report in The Forward. According to tax filings, the organization’s income declined from $73 million in 2006 to $51 million in 2010.
Despite nationwide staff reductions, the ADL kept all its 28 regional offices open during that period. In 2008, however, ADL closed its West Orange office when its lease expired. Neuer then moved into temporary space donated by the Jewish Center of Teaneck, a synagogue.
“There is no question that fund-raising directly contributed to staff reductions across the board,” said Neuer. “There was a strategic decision taken several years ago to reduce staff, and at the same time, not close any offices. The offices most directly affected were the smaller offices, and New Jersey was one of them.”
Despite his promotion, Neuer said, “I always loved my work in New Jersey, so there was some reluctance to leave it behind.” He lives in Bergen County.
Neuer said he was especially proud of ADL’s participation in a 2008 court case, Cutler v. Dorn, protecting employees against anti-Semitism in the workplace, and the 2010 passage of the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights.
From his new office across the Hudson, he continues to monitor the bias incidents in his home state.
“No part of New Jersey is immune from anti-Semitism. There are very strong insular Jewish communities that suffer from incidents. Just this past weekend, Orthodox Jews were egged in Lakewood, and in Bergen County, two synagogues were vandalized with swastikas and white supremacist symbols,” he pointed out (see sidebar).
“ADL continues to staff New Jersey, and I continue to monitor it and serve the community. It is a role I do with pride,” he said.
Noted Wolfson, “We will make sure to respond with the full force and power of the ADL whenever necessary. We are on the case.”