Murphy appoints 77 new members to New Jersey-Israel Commission

Selections, which commemorate 73rd Israeli Independence Day, include second co-chair, Karin Elkis

Governor Phil Murphy announced the appointments of 77 public members to the New Jersey-Israel Commission, including a second co-chair, Karin Elkis.

Elkis will serve as co-chair along with Mark Levenson, who was one of 21 members who were reappointed. Andrew Gross serves as the executive director.

The appointments to the commission were announced Wednesday, Israel’s 73rd Independence Day, in celebration of the friendship and longstanding relationship between New Jersey and Israel.

Karin Elkis. (File photo)

“I am proud to announce these appointments to the New Jersey-Israel Commission,” Murphy said. “New Jersey has had a special relationship with Israel dating back decades, one that Tammy and I were honored to continue with an official visit to Israel in 2018. I am confident that Mark, Karin, Andrew and the members of the commission will continue to strengthen our friendship with the Israeli people and provide further opportunities for collaboration on economic, educational, and cultural initiatives.”

The New Jersey-Israel Commission was established in 1989 to promote the development of trade, culture and educational exchanges; encourage the development of capital investment and joint business ventures; and foster a spirit of cooperation between the citizens of Israel and the state of New Jersey.

The commission is under the purview of Secretary of State Tahesha Way and its executive director, with members appointed directly by the governor.

The members include leaders in business, journalism, music, diplomacy, civics, religion, technology, medicine, academia and other sectors, representing the true spirit of the commission’s mission. Additionally, state Sens. Loretta Weinberg, James Beach, Tom Kean Jr. and Robert Singer, and Assemblymen and -women Gary Schaer, Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Jon Bramnick and John DiMaio serve as legislative representatives to the commission.

Mark Levenson. (Sills Cummis)

Levenson, a partner at Sills Cummis & Gross P.C., said he is excited by the announcement.

“The breadth of talent, expertise and individual commitment to Israel, our state of New Jersey and the New Jersey-Israel relationship of each and every one of our new commission members is truly beyond compare,” he said. “I am also especially delighted with the naming of my incoming co-chair, Karin Elkis, whom I have known for over 20 years.

“Karin has had a long and distinguished career in both government service and the private sector as well as significant community involvement, and I couldn’t be more pleased to have her join me in working with our tremendously effective and energetic executive director, Andrew Gross, in carrying out the inspirational, important and needed work of the commission.”

Elkis, a senior vice president for Optimus Partners, said she was honored by her appointment.

“New Jersey’s relationship with Israel is truly special and I thank the governor for nominating me to serve as a steward of this tremendous effort to strengthen our ties and promote economic and cultural exchange,” she said.

Murphy said the new appointments reflect an incredible cross-section of individuals who have shown leadership in New Jersey’s special connection with Israel and a dedication to deepening this relationship across the Jewish community and other communities.

The major reform of the commission, moving to a co-chair model, sets the bar higher for the future and ushers in a new era of bilateral cooperation focusing on future technologies and the needs of the state, state officials said.

The commission has seen many recent achievements.

In March, the governor announced the Institute for Future Technologies with the presidents of New Jersey Institute of Technology and Ben Gurion University, which will focus on cybersecurity and environmental engineering in Newark and Jersey City.

In April, the Commission facilitated a relationship bringing Israel Aerospace Industries, Israel’s largest aviation company, to demonstrate new technologies at Atlantic City Airport designed to keep air travel safe from viruses like COVID-19.


  • Co-Chair: Karin Elkis
  • Ambassador Dani Dayan
  • Ambassador Michael Oren
  • Ravit Barkama
  • Yoram Behiri
  • Miri Ben-Ari
  • Bob Bendeon
  • Angelica Berrie
  • Shari Blecher
  • Bruce Brafman
  • Michael Cohen
  • Leslie Dannin Rosenthal
  • Yoram Elgrabli
  • Michael Feldstein
  • Betsy Fischer
  • John Frankel
  • Jonathan Frenkel
  • Vivian Fuhrman
  • Paula Gold
  • Ginger Gold Schnitzer
  • Sheri Goldberg
  • Phil Goldfeder
  • Craig Gotsman
  • Archie Gottesman
  • Janice Harrington Knopf
  • Laura Herschlag
  • Nathan Herzog
  • Howard Joffe
  • Lori Klinghoffer
  • Ora Kornbluth
  • Sharon Levine Corzine
  • Elias Mattar
  • Margaret McMenamin
  • Gary Minkoff
  • Allison Nagelberg
  • Pinakin Pathak
  • Yuri Piltser
  • Michael Pock
  • Ari Rabban
  • Jason Ravitz
  • Norman Rokeach
  • Alex Rosemberg
  • Lori Sackler
  • Joe Shamie
  • Tal Shuster
  • Harry Silver
  • Sarri Singer
  • Leon Sokol
  • Calvin Souder
  • Ariella Steinreich
  • Daniel Straus
  • Debra Tantleff
  • Michael Wildes
  • Audrey Wilf
  • Ido Zairi
  • Tracy Zur


  • Co-Chair: Mark Levenson
  • Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer
  • Rabbi Menachem Carlebach
  • Rabbi Yosef Carlebach
  • Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner
  • Rabbi Aaron Kotler
  • Sarah Biser
  • Andrew Getraer
  • Steven Goldstein
  • Abe Halberstam
  • Marlene Herman
  • Herbert Klein
  • Wendy Lazarus
  • Lawrence Lerner
  • Harriet Sepinwall
  • Jason Shames
  • Karen Small
  • Roy Tanzman
  • Jacob Toporek
  • Jerold Zaro
  • Ralph Zucker