30 Apr ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO HOSTS ANNUAL ESSEX COUNTY JEWISH HERITAGE CELEBRATION Star of Essex Awards Presented to Dr. Joel Bloom, President of NJIT Kerri Berson Levine, Real Estate Executive and Philanthropist

Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. hosted the Annual Essex County Annual Jewish Heritage Celebration on Monday, April 30th. 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 Dr. Joel Bloom, President of NJIT and Kerri Berson Levine, Real Estate Executive and Philanthropist.

“Dr. Bloom and Mrs. Levine have both impacted the development of our community in their own unique way. Dr. Bloom has been a leading educator and the driving force behind the transformation and expansion of NJIT. Mrs. Levine has played an integral role in creating a dynamic atmosphere in Newark’s Downtown as well as providing educational and recreational opportunities through her work with Opportunity Project and Turtle Back Zoo,” DiVincenzo said. “Essex is a mosaic of diverse ethnicities, nationalities and religions, and this celebration is our opportunity to recognize the important role that Jewish people have had, and continue to have, on our County,” he added.

Dr. Joel Bloom is the President of NJIT, chair of the Greater Newark Consortium Board for Pre-College Education and vice chair of the State Board for Communities and Schools. He joined the staff of NJIT in 1990 and has served in several capacities before becoming president, including vice president for academic and student services and as the first dean of the Albert Dorman Honors College. Prior to his career at NJIT, Bloom was a teacher and school administrator in New York City Public Schools, director of research and an instructor at Teacher’s College at Columbia University and managed state and federally funded curriculum development and training centers. Bloom also served as assistant commissioner in the New Jersey Department of Education for the Division of General Academic Education from 1984-1990.

Dr. Bloom has been the recipient of national and state education awards, and federal, foundation and corporate grant awards. In addition, he has published journal articles and presented papers on school improvement, curriculum development, college transition, and student assessment. He has served as a member of the Board of the National Technical University, State College Bound Advisory Board, Board of the Philadelphia Alliance of Minority Participation, and the Board of the New Jersey Association of Partners of Education.

Dr. Bloom holds a master’s degree and a doctorate from Teacher’s College, Columbia University. Furthermore, he has earned master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Hunter College of the City University, New York City.

“To get this award, in such a great city and a great county, I feel very privileged,” Dr. Bloom said. “I am very proud of our students at NJIT. Not only are we on a growth trajectory, but we are on a diversity trajectory and our students gave 52,000 volunteer hours working in parks and in schools to give back to their community,” he pointed out.

 Kerri B. Levine is a Vice President at The Fidelco Realty Group and a dedicated philanthropist. Mrs. Levine focuses on a wide range of properties in urban areas throughout the tri-state area, including Newark, which is her family’s birthplace and the center of her civic and philanthropic endeavors. While partaking in Fidelco’s success developing distinct destinations in overlooked inner-city neighborhoods, Mrs. Levine spearheads the business’s commercial leasing securing tenants such as Chipotle, Krauszer’s, FastSigns, Redd’s Beirgarten, PureBarre, Leadership Newark, to name a few.

Philanthropically, Mrs. Levine is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Zoological Society of NJ, which helps support Essex County Turtle Back Zoo, where she is committed to providing and enriching a recreational experience that fosters excellence in wildlife education and wildlife conservation. In partnership with Essex County, she has developed Turtle Back’s first Annual Miniature Golf Classic. In addition, she is a Trustee and Treasurer of Opportunity Project Inc., a not-for-profit organization aiding in the rehabilitation and empowerment of people with brain injuries.

Mrs. Levine is co-founder of GIRLTALK #takeover, a day-long event for inner-city females ages 8-16 that focuses on beauty, community exposure, and female health and wellness. She is also a member of the College of Arts and Science Dean’s Advisory Council at New York University, member of the advisory board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Essex, Hudson & Union Counties, and a trustee emeritus of Newark Downtown District (NDD).

“I consider this to be one of the greatest honors because I’m standing in the same place and getting the same award that my father received from the County Executive 10 years ago,” Mr. Levine said. “Preserving our Jewish heritage always will be a priority and you could say working to improve Essex County and giving back to the community is genetic,” Levine said, pointing out that generations of her family have owned businesses in Essex 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.