Essex County Commissioners 2021 Jewish Heritage Month Celebration
(Newark, NJ) – On Wednesday, May 19, 2021, the Essex County Board of County Commissioners held its 2021 Essex County Jewish Heritage Month Celebration via Zoom teleconference. The event celebrated the accomplishments of Jewish men and women everywhere, and honored members of Essex County’s Jewish community for their contributions to the county and to society as a whole.
Commissioner Vice President Carlos M. Pomares opened the program with reflections of the past year and the progress the country and local community has made concerning the coronavirus pandemic. He noted, “Today our ability to have this celebration virtually is an example of resilience and we are proud to move forward with our mission and goal.” He further noted many of the Board’s events were cancelled last year due to Governor Murphy’s Executive Order for gathering restrictions.
Consequently, Commissioner At-Large Patricia Sebold of Livingston and the Board’s only Jewish Board member, expressed pride in her faith and her pleasure to resume the annual celebration after last year’s unfortunate cancellation due to the coronavirus pandemic. “I am proud to be a Jewish American, and delighted to be the catalyst for the Board’s celebration.” she said.
This year, the Board recognized three outstanding residents for their community service: Rabbi David Z. Vaisberg of Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, Arthur Lutzke, Treasurer of the Weequahic High School Alumni Association in Newark, and Frederic Pressman, (posthumously) former Vice President of Religious Living at Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield. Mr. Pressman was represented by his widow Ronnie Pressman.
Commissioner Sebold honored Rabbi David Z. Vaisberg, with the Board’s commendation. He was recognized for his spiritual leadership as the Senior Rabbi of Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, New Jersey. Additionally, he was recognized for his accomplishments as a writer, education advocate, and for his work fighting for social justice. He has partnered with New Jersey Together in community organizing in Essex County, led Temple B’nai Abraham’s efforts to upgrade their technology capabilities to meet the demands of the 21st century, and worked with members of the community to address hate and anti-Semitism.
Arthur Lutzke, Treasurer of the Weequahic High School Alumni Association and Chair of its Scholarship Committee was honored by Commissioner President Wayne L. Richardson. In collaboration with his leadership, the Weequahic High School Alumni Association has provided financial assistance to hundreds of Weequahic High School graduates attending college or technical school. To date, the committee has raised almost one million dollars for scholarships, support enrichment programs, the school’s athletic teams, and other student activities. In response to the pandemic, 100 Google Chromebooks and their licenses were provided to the students at Weequahic High School while also supporting the New Jersey Community Food Bank and the staff of Beth Israel Hospital.
Finally, Frederic Pressman, was honored by Commissioner Brendan W. Gill, posthumously for his work in the Bloomfield community. He was the longtime Religious Living Chair at Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield. He took the meaning of Tikkun Olam or “Mend the World” literally. Whether he cut vegetables at the Bloomfield Café, participated in the monthly feeding program at Park Methodist Church, or organized the collection of over 20 tons of donated food for the Human Needs Food Pantry, he led by example. His wife Ronnie was gracious in representing her late husband and thanked the Board for the honor.
Further highlights of the program included opening and closing prayers from Rabbinical Assistant Max Edwards and musical selections from Cantor Jessica F. Epstein, both of Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston.
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For Additional Information:
Kyalo Mulumba, Public Information Officer
Essex County Board of County Commissioners
973-621-4452 (phone) 973-621-5695 (fax)