ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO HOSTS ANNUAL ESSEX COUNTY JEWISH HERITAGE CELEBRATION
Star of Essex Awards are Presented to NJ State Senator Loretta Weinberg and Essex County Turtle Back Zoo Director Dr. Jeremy Goodman
Newark, NJ - Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. hosted Essex County's Annual Jewish Heritage Celebration on Wednesday, April 28th. The festive event recognized the influence and positive impact that Jewish people have had, and continue to have, on the economy and culture of Essex County. During the ceremony, DiVincenzo presented Star of Essex Awards to the Honorable Loretta Weinberg, NJ State Senator representing the 37th Legislative District, andDr. Jeremy Goodman, Essex County Turtle Back Zoo Director.
"Senator Loretta Weinberg and Dr. Jeremy Goodman have both enjoyed tremendous personal success in their respective careers. Their leadership and dedication is to be commended," DiVincenzo said. "Senator Weinberg has been an elected official for many years and now, as State Senator, she works tirelessly to help her constituents and those in need. Turtle Back Zoo has been recognized by NJ Monthly as the best zoo in New Jersey and Dr. Goodman and the entire staff are an integral part of its success," he added.
Senator Weinberg was the first person to run as a Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor in the State of New Jersey in 2009. She has championed issues affecting women, children, families, healthcare, gun safety and other quality of life concerns throughout her career, which began back in 1975 when she was Bergen County's Assistant Administrator. Prior to being elected to the NJ State Senate in 2005, she served as a Teaneck Council member and as an Assemblywoman representing the 37th Legislative District. She sponsored several bills that continue to have a positive impact on the State such as the NJ Smoke-Free Air Act which prohibits smoking indoors in public places, the NJ Child Proof Handgun Bill, Autism Funding Bill that gives $1 from every NJ traffic violation to Autism research, and in 2004 her legislation that lowered the legal alcohol level to .08 was signed to law. She also created the Governor's Advisory Council on Adolescent Pregnancy and supported bills that required health insurance companies to pay for at least 48 hours of hospital care for new mothers and their babies.
She is currently the Chairperson of the Senate Health, Human Services & Senior Citizens Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee and serves on the New Jersey Israel Commission and the State Legislative Services Commission. She is also a member of the New Jersey Historical Commission, the Legislative Services Commission, and the New Jersey Israel Commission. She was appointed to the Mandated Health Benefits Advisory Committee, Community Services Committee, Veterans Affair Committee and the Consumer Affairs & Regulated Professions Committee by the Speaker of the General Assembly. She has been an active in the American Red Cross, Shelter Our Sisters, the Bergen Family Center, AARP Teaneck, the NJ Network of Women Elected Officials and the National Council of Jewish Woman.
Senator Weinberg, a New York native, received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science from the University of California and a Master of Arts degree in Public Administration from Fairleigh Dickenson University. She is married to the late Irwin Weinberg and is the proud parent of two children, Daniel and Francine, and has two grandchildren, Shayna and Jonah. She is a long-time member of Temple Emeth in Teaneck.
"I believe that we are all here to celebrate life and to make life better for someone else or a generation after our own," said Weinberg." I thank the County Executive for this award and I am honored to share this day with Dr. Jeremy Goodman, who is doing an excellent job at Turtle Back Zoo," she added.
Dr. Goodman currently serves as the Director and Veterinarian of Essex County Turtle Back Zoo. Prior to joining Essex County, he was in private practice and served as Assistant Director and Veterinarian at the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, Ind. Under his leadership, Turtle Back Zoo has undergone significant upgrades and improvements, which have helped to enhance the Zoo's programming as well. Today, Turtle Back Zoo is an accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, well-known throughout the State for its educational and entertaining experience that welcomed 450,000 visitors in 2009. He is a member of several professional organizations, such as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Zoo Veterinarians. He has served as President of the West Orange Eruv Association since 2007, which maintains the ritual border surrounding the West Orange and bordering communities in order to allow residents within the border to transfer items and people within that border and is also a member of the Inclusion Committee of Congregation Ahawas Achim B'nai Jacob and David, which serves to make the synagogue accessible and a friendly atmosphere.
Dr. Goodman, an Illinois native, received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science from Rutgers University and his Doctorate Degree in Veterinary Medicine degree from Tufts School of Veterinary Medicine. He currently resides in West Orange with his wife Marina and their three children, David, Jack and Dina. They are active members of Congregation Ahawas Achim B'nai Jacob and David.
"It is an honor to receive this award from the County Executive. My religion is not just something I do at church, it's something I infuse into my daily life and work as much as possible. The Jewish heritage has taught me several valuable lessons, such as to appreciate life, the importance of quality time with your family and about working to make the world a better place," said Goodman. "I believe that if God thought it was important enough to create, it is important enough to save and protect, and I try to cultivate the wonderful Jewish heritage in my children's lives, so they will pass it along," he added.
Jacob Kolton, a Holocaust survivor from Poland, provided the musical entertainment at the event. Mr. Kolton was 14 years old when World War II began and he was sent to two Buchenwald concentration camps. He met his late wife of 58 years at a displaced persons camp. While at the camp, he was trained as a jeweler by the Jewish organization Ort and later worked as a professional jeweler when he came to America. Mr. Kolton is one of the many active seniors in Essex County. He was the winner of the 2003 Legacies Essay Contest sponsored by the Essex County Division of Senior Services and received Honorable Mention recognition in 2007. His beautiful voice is often lent to various organizations throughout the County.
The Essex County Jewish Heritage Celebration is part of a yearlong series of programs initiated by County Executive DiVincenzo to recognize and celebrate the diversity of Essex County. Other cultural celebrations celebrate African American Heritage, Irish Heritage, Italian Heritage, Jewish Heritage, Latino Heritage and Portuguese Heritage.