(Newark, NJ) –On May 15, 2019, the Essex CountyBoard of ChosenFreeholders held their annual Jewish HeritageMonth Celebration at the Hall of Records in Newark, New Jersey. During the event, the Freeholders recognizedthe notable contributions of Jewish residents in the county. This year’s honorees were Linda Scherzer,of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey, and Rabbi Marc Katz of Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield.
Freeholder President Brendan Gillbegan the program with remarks that emphasized the importance of celebrating Jewish Heritage from a cultural, social, and educational standpoint.Freeholder At-Large Patricia Seboldexpressed how proud shewas, as a Jewish American,to be the catalyst for the Board’s celebration. She spoke to the diversity of faiths and ethnicities in the county,andinvokedEssex County’s often used tag line, “Our Diversity is Our Strength”.
Linda Scherzeristhe Director of the Community Relations Committeeforthe Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest New Jersey. As director, she mobilizes the Jewish community on national, state, and local issues,and helps advance the interests and agenda of the Jewish people.She also reachesout across religious and ethnic lines, building relationships with Christian and Muslim groups,to advance issues of common concern
For the last 17 years, she has led efforts to educate, engage, and challengeJewish high school students to lead the pro-Israel community as they enter college.Her efforts have helped strengthen students’ knowledge and confidence to stand up for Israel amidst growing anti-Semitism on campuses across the country.
Prior to her work in the Jewish community, shewasa CNN correspondent in Israel and spent eight years covering the Arab-Israeli conflict. Among the stories she covered werethe Intifada, Gulf War and Mideast Peace Process.
During her acceptance remarks, she stated how moved she was by the honor, and the sense of joy felt by her and her family. At the same time, she conveyed to all in attendance, “During great times of joy, we must always remember the pain of others.”She touched on the tragedies of the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh,and the attacks on mosques and schools all over the country. With great resolve, she affirmed, “These attacks compel us to re-double our efforts to stand up, to reach out, to re-assert the principles of tolerance and love for others that make us who we are.”
Rabbi Marc Katz is the Rabbi atTemple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, New Jersey.Before entering rabbinical school, he worked as a Legislative Assistant for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. In this role, he lobbiedfor environmental protection and health care reform.
Since becoming Rabbi at Temple Ner Tamid, he has been involved in a hostof projects and initiatives. In addition to leading services, providing pastoral care, teaching, and leading life cycle moments for congregants,he helped launch the congregation’s Leadership Series. This includes a monthly learning series on Israel, as well as invitingelected officials tothe temple todiscusssocial justice issues. Additionally, he has launched acampaign to assistundocumentedimmigrantsin obtainingdrivers’licenses.
He is the author of thebook “The Heart of Loneliness: How Jewish Wisdom Can Help You Cope and Find Comfort”, which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. He has written for numerous publications including; Tablet Magazine, the CCAR Journal, and is a contributing writer for The Sacred Encounter: Jewish Perspectives on Sexuality.
Rabbi Katz thanked the Board for being honored,andexpressed hisinterest to work with themon bringing awareness to issues such as criminal justice reform, access to healthcare, and ensuring clean waterfor all ofEssex County. He assertedthat service of othersis an intrinsic part of the Jewish faith. If we fail to help those around us, Rabbi Katz stated, “Weare not living out the mandate of our tradition to not stand idly bywhile our neighbor suffers.”
Deputy County Administrator Jay Coltre offered greetings on behalf of County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, and the audience was graced with a performance of“TheStar Spangled Banner”,as well a rendition of the National Anthem of Israel, “Hatikvah”, by Cantor Meredith Greenbergof Temple Ner Tamid. Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitzof Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, New Jersey delivered the opening and closing prayers ofthe ceremony.
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For Additional Information:
Kyalo Mulumba, Public Information Officer
Essex County Board of Chosen Freeholders
973-621-4452 (phone) 973-621-5695 (fax)