BLOOMFIELD, NJ – As part of their ongoing Leadership Series program, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy spoke on a variety of statewide and national issued on Monday evening, September 9 at Temple Ner Tamid on Broad Street in Bloomfield.

In the third and final program at Temple Ner Tamid in 2019, the town hall forum titled ‘Governing with Social Justice’ was moderated by CBS News Senior National Correspondent and Temple congregation member Jim Axelrod.  Axelrod also reports for CBS Evening News, CBS This Morning, and CBS Sunday News.

“This is really one of the great nights we’ve had at Temple Ner Tamid as New Jersey’s 56th Governor is here spending some time with us,” said Axelrod prior to introducing Murphy.

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Murphy then took to the stage to join Axelrod for the town hall before a packed house of approximately 300 audience members.

“We campaigned for a stronger and fairer New Jersey and we have stuck to our guns,” Murphy said in his opening statement.  “A lot of folks when they get elected then change their stripes, particularly when they win a primary, and I’m proud of the fact that we have not done that.  Of the 52 campaign promises we had made; we have achieved 47.  There are a few that we have not gotten done yet and those are the ones I spend most of my time on to get done.”

Among the issues that Murphy touched on were the economy, stating, “last month was the second consecutive month that we have hit an all-time state low – not just since the Great Depression, but of all-time – the lowest unemployment rate at just 3.3%.”

As far as education, Murphy explained, ”last week, our public education system was ranked by the Education Week Research Center organization for the first-time ever as the number one system in America.”

About gun violence, Murphy said, “there is no topic I am more passionate about that gun violence.  We have passed a lot of laws and I want to pass more.  There is one outstanding law that I want to pass, and I’m not sure why our Senate has not moved on it, and that is to regulate ammunition.”

When it came to questions asked by Axelrod and members of the public in attendance, Murphy like a true artist at work did an outstanding job of not really directly answering any questions, instead blaming any Garden State troubles on President Donald Trump’s current administration and Governor Chris Christie’s previous administration.

Topics Murphy tiptoed around dealt with commuter frustrations with NJ Transit bus and rail service and timeliness, and escalating New Jersey property taxes and cost of living.  Murphy, in so many words, blamed Trump and Christie for the NJ Transit and property tax frustrations.

However, Murphy strongly reiterated his firm stance, stating he is “all in” that all “undocumented citizens” in New Jersey should have access to obtain drivers licenses, and wishes the bill was on his desk right now to sign.

Rabbi Marc Katz of Temple Ner Tamid, host of the event, also strongly championed for ‘undocumented citizens’ to receive drivers licenses as part of social justice fairness. 

“The idea of social justice in the Jewish tradition is woven into the fabric of what our religion is,” said Rabbi Katz.  “We are a religion that cares deeply about healing the world.  Healing the world can seem like a daunting task, but the truth is that 2,000 years ago our ancient rabbis understood that sometimes change needs to happen on local levels.  If you have the power to change the whole world, do it – if you have the power to change your whole country, do it – and if you have the power to change your city, do it.”

Governor Murphy also thanked Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia for doing an outstanding job in the township.

Essex County Freeholder President Brendan Gill attended the town hall.

A previous speaker earlier this year as part of the Temple’s Leadership Series included District 11 Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill at a town hall forum also moderated by Axelrod.