Essex County commissioners hold annual Jewish Heritage Month event

Photo Courtesy of Lloyd Holmes
At the Essex County Board of County Commissioners 2022 Jewish Heritage Month event are, from left, board clerk Deborah Davis Ford, Commissioner President Wayne L. Richardson, Caren L. Freyer, Commissioner Vice President Carlos M. Pomares, Commissioner Romaine Graham, Commissioner Patricia Sebold, Rabbi Max Edwards, Jill Hirsch and Commissioner Tyshammie L. Cooper.

NEWARK, NJ — On Thursday, May 19, the Essex County Board of County Commissioners held its annual Jewish Heritage Month event. This year, the board recognized Rabbi Max Edwards of Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston; Caren L. Freyer, regional public affairs manager at PSEG; and Jill Hirsch, district director for U.S. Rep. Mikie Sherrill, who attended the ceremony.

“We look forward to this event every year as it gives us an opportunity to recognize one of the many communities that contribute to our county’s greatest strength — the diversity of our people,” Commissioner President Wayne L. Richardson said. “Last year, due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions, our Jewish heritage event was held virtually. Thankfully, through the diligent work of our county leadership, we are now able to resume holding events in person.”

Hirsch oversees the operations of Sherrill’s 11th Congressional District office and supervises constituent and political outreach. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with honors and earning a joint degree in law and social work from Washington University in St. Louis, Hirsch started her career in the child welfare field focusing on adoption. During her time as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society, she represented children in abuse, neglect, custody and guardianship cases, and worked on the Education Advocacy Project, a grant-funded project that provides early intervention and special education advocacy for foster children with developmental delays.

“This is truly an honor that Jill deserves,” Sherrill said at the event. “She agonizes for hours over casework and people we need to help, and New Jersey would not run the same without her.”

Prior to his rabbinic ordination from Hebrew College Rabbinical School in Newton, Mass., Edwards received a Master’s of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School and a Bachelor of Arts from Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minn. In his role at B’nai Abraham, aside from service leading, regular teaching and providing pastoral care, he has worked with his clergy colleagues to increase the community’s role in social justice causes. He is currently working with Refugee Assistance Partners New Jersey to explore options for refugee resettlement in the Livingston area.

Freyer provides strategic communications, problem solving, public policy support and regular testimony at commissioner and town council hearings on behalf of PSEG. Additionally, she manages local relationships with public officials and stakeholders to support the PSEG regional public affairs team. During her career in the energy sector, she has held a variety of leadership roles, including: vice president of governmental relations with Parsons Brinckerhoff; manager of state governmental relations with Ebasco Services; commissioner and vice chairperson of the Essex County Utilities Authority; and energy analyst with the New Jersey State Department of Energy. She is also a member of several civic and community-based organizations, including the Mental Health Association of Morris and Essex County; the World Trade Center Scholarship Fund; the Newark Workforce Development Board; and the New Jersey Business Alliance.

Rabbi David Vaisberg of Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston delivered prayers during the occasion, and the audience was captivated by the musical talents of Cantor Peri Smilow of Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield.