29 Apr ESSEX COUNTY EXECUTIVE DIVINCENZO HOSTS ANNUAL ESSEX COUNTY JEWISH HERITAGE CELEBRATION

Star of Essex Awards Presented to
Nomi Colton-Max, Board President of Congregation Beth El in South Orange,
and Harold Colton-Max, CEO of the Jewish Community Housing Corporation
of Metropolitan New Jersey

Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. hosted Essex County’s Annual Jewish Heritage Celebration on Wednesday, April 29th. 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 Nomi Colton-Max, Board President of Congregation Beth El in South Orange, and Harold Colton-Max, CEO of the Jewish Community Housing Corporation of Metropolitan New Jersey.

“Harold and Nomi Colton-Max have both enjoyed tremendous personal success in their respective careers,” DiVincenzo said. “Their commitment to serving the Jewish community and improving the lives of Essex County residents, their leadership, and dedication to public service is to be commended,” he added.

“Charity, philanthropy and doing for others are the things that both Harold and Nomi Colton-Max have committed to doing every day of their lives and these are strong principles within the Jewish community,” said Assemblywoman Sheila Y. Oliver.

“This is always a wonderful event. Thank you to County Executive DiVincenzo for recognizing our citizens, because it is the community leaders like today’s honorees that make Essex County the best it can be,” said Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey.

Nomi Colton-Max began her volunteer work at Congregation Beth El shortly after her family moved to South Orange 13 years ago. She has been active on a variety of committees and served on Beth El’s Board of Trustees for 11 years, the last two as president of the egalitarian conservative synagogue. Trained as a foreign policy analyst, specializing in the Arab World and the Persian Gulf, Mrs. Colton-Max previously worked at the Council on Foreign Relations and a private energy consulting firm. She holds degrees from McGill University and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She has lived, worked and traveled throughout the region and speaks Hebrew, Arabic and French. Mrs. Colton-Max also previously served a three-year term on the Supreme Court of New Jersey District Ethics Committee (District VB).

Mrs. Colton-Max is a proud Progressive Zionist. She grew up in the Habonim-Dror youth movement in Canada and her professional and personal development has been centered on Israel and the Middle East. She is a long time member of Ameinu – a national organization working for a progressive Israel and America – and has served as an executive member for several years. She has been a member of the MetroWest Jewish Community Relations Council and the Habonim-Dror Na’aleh Camp Committee, and been involved in the American Zionist Movement. Mrs. Colton-Max is currently running on the Hatikvah Slate of the World Zionist Congress.

She speaks frequently on the subjects of current events in the Middle East and Israel. Her lectures have focused on the political situation, women, refugees and elections. Most recently, she was spoke on a Hadassah Web Cast Series on Defining Zionism where she articulated why “Progressive Zionism is the Most Important Discussion for the Next Generation of North American Leadership.”

“To be recognized for something you love makes this recognition really special. My husband and I belong to many different communities simultaneously, but working in each of them gives us a great opportunity to serve and we instill these values in our children,” said Mrs. Colton-Max. “Thank you to County Executive DiVincenzo and Freeholder Patricia Sebold for the great honor that has been bestowed upon my husband and I today,” she added.

Harold Colton-Max has dedicated his efforts to the Jewish principle of Tikkun Olam, which means to repair the world. Mr. Colton-Max currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Community Housing Corporation of Metropolitan New Jersey, a non-profit organization devoted to providing housing with supportive services for senior citizens in the Greater MetroWest Community that includes Essex, Morris, Sussex, Union and parts of Somerset County. In this capacity, he oversees the organization’s four apartment buildings with 470 units of independent living and assisted living options for those 62 years or older. During his tenure, the JCHC has refinanced all four of its buildings, resulting in millions of dollars for building improvements, funds for additional programming and funds for the reserves and/or future development projects. Prior to JCHC, he served as Executive Director of the Fairmount Housing Corporation, a community development corporation serving Hudson County for seven years and as an intern at the New Community Corporation in Newark, one of the first and most successful CDCs.

Mr. Colton-Max’s commitment to providing affordable housing to low- and moderate-income households is demonstrated by the leadership positions that he has held in state and local coalitional efforts. He is in his third year as President of the Affordable Housing Professionals of New Jersey, a membership group for professionals to grow their skills and advance their field. He was a Founding Member and President of the Jersey City Affordable Housing Coalition and is a long-time member of the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey.

Mr. Colton-Max also has been devoted to the Township of South Orange Village, where he lives with his family. Shortly after moving to the area, he became Chair of the South Orange Citizens Budget Advisory Committee. He then served as a member of the South Orange Board of Adjustment for three years before transitioning to the South Orange Planning Board, where he has served as a member and Vice Chair before assuming the position of Chairman last year, a position he currently holds. He is also a member of the Village’s Senior Citizen Advisory Committee and is a member of Congregation Beth El, an egalitarian Conservative synagogue where his wife Nomi currently serves as President.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Princeton University and a Master’s of Business Administration from Columbia Business School.

“My roots are here in Essex County and I am thankful that we are having his event today. I developed my roots for service at the Community Food Bank of NJ when it was in Newark. I want to thank my parents for supporting me in my life choices and for setting an example for me that I also instill in my children and my wife for everything she does to make this a better community and for all she does to support me and our family,” said Mr. Colton-Max. “I’d like to thank County Executive DiVincenzo for this honor and for all that he continues to do for the entire County,” he added.

Mr. and Mrs. Harold and Nomi Colton-Max are the parents of two sons who have inherited their desire to work to improve the world.  Zachary and Rafi attend Golda Och Academy (formerly the Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union) in West Orange.

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.

Contact:  Anthony Puglisi
973-621-2542
Lauren Shears
973-621-1590