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Essex County Hosted Annual Jewish Heritage Celebration

Essex County

“ By: Lauren T. Agnew/Yuritza Arroyo  

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. hosted the Annual Essex County Annual Jewish Heritage Celebration on Tuesday, May 30th.

According to officials, 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 the Star of Essex Awards to Jill Hirsch, District Director for the Office of Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill, and Rabbi Marc Katz of Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield.

“Jill Hirsch and Rabbi Katz have both been influential members of our community, having had great 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 praised,” he added.

Jill Hirsch is currently the District Director for the New Jersey Office of Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11). She oversees the operations of the District Office as well as supervises constituent and political outreach.

Hirsch started her career in the child welfare field, working as an attorney with the Legal Aid Society in New York City, representing children in abuse, neglect, custody, guardianship, termination of parental rights, adoption, and juvenile delinquency proceedings. She has expertise in special education law, advocating on behalf of foster children.

  In 2017, she helped launch the Mikie Sherrill for Congress campaign as Political and Outreach Director.

Hirsch lives in Montclair with her husband, John, and their two children, Jude and Leo. She is active in the Montclair community and served on the board of CASA for Children of Essex County.  She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with honors and has a joint degree in Law and Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis.

“I am really honored to receive this award. Community service always has been central to our families' lives, and I am so proud of the work we do with Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill to help constituents,” Ms. Hirsch said.


Rabbi Marc Katz came to Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield in 2018. He has concentrated on a host of initiatives, including expanding the Israel discourse, enriching adult education, engaging empty nesters, re-imagining parent engagement in Religious School, pursuing social justice, and opening spiritual avenues during prayer.  

This is in addition to his regular clergy duties of leading services, conducting funerals, visiting sick congregants, officiating at weddings, and working with b’nei mitzvah students.

Originally from Barrington, R.I., Rabbi Katz received a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University in 2006. At Tufts, he studied Comparative Religion while serving as the captain of his college swim team. Before entering rabbinical school, Rabbi Katz worked as a Legislative Assistant for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, lobbying for environmental protection and healthcare reform on behalf of the Reform movement.

Rabbi Katz graduated from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in 2012 and began work as assistant rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where he had been working as a student rabbi and religious schoolteacher for four years. Rabbi Katz served a total of 10 years at CBE, eventually attaining the title of Associate Rabbi.


Rabbi Katz is the author of the book, “The Heart of Loneliness: How Jewish Wisdom Can Help You Cope and Find Comfort (Jewish Lights),” which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. When not at Temple Ner Tamid, Rabbi Katz is an adjunct professor of Talmud at Hebrew Union College as well as a judge for the National Jewish Book Awards. Rabbi Katz and his wife, Ayelet, live in Montclair.


“Essex County is a special place because it is a place where people come together, and when there is a tragedy, people show up to support. When we come together, our cumulative light shines brighter,” Rabbi Katz said.

“This is a wonderful and beautiful honor to receive this recognition from the County Executive,” he added.