The Master Builder, the title of an off-Broadway production now playing, is an apt way to describe longtime Morris County Freeholder Jack Schrier. In a state with four Jewish freeholders, we have been fortunate to have a friend and mensch representing the people of Morris County.
I have had the great pleasure for the last dozen years to be friends with Jack Schrier. I met him when I served as chair of the Community Relations Committee of MetroWest. I do not recall that he had been involved in the Jewish community previously although I can tell you that he takes great pride in his roots in Newark and seemed to not only identify but perhaps re-identify with his background over the years.
In community relations, our goal is to build and strengthen relationships. One of the classic challenges for the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ since its decades-old merger with the federation in Morris and Sussex Counties has been to help solidify the Jewish community in those areas and make everyone feel part of MetroWest. I can think of no one who has helped serve that purpose better than Jack Schrier.
Jack assisted in developing and expanding our contacts with the elected and official infrastructure in Morris County. Mostly through his leadership and guidance we were able to put together a mission to Morris which permitted officials from MetroWest to meet with, network, and spend an entire day with their cohorts in the county administration. We now have relationships we never had before, through measures that could be described as nothing less than confidence-building.
Jack has been an exemplar for the people in his home community of Mendham, where he served as mayor for several terms, as well as the county, where he served 12 years as a freeholder. When asked to be involved in the Highlands Commission, he accepted that task even if it was unpopular.
It was also through his efforts that Jewish Vocational Service of MetroWest was able to maintain an embryonic but hopeful presence in Morris County. Similarly, he was instrumental in assisting with “Parsippany Live,” a multi-agency effort to help areas seniors age in place.
Jack is an ecumenical representative. It was fitting that Monsignor Patrick Brown of St. Vincent de Paul Church, as well as Rabbi Moshe Herson of the Rabbinical College of America, helped pay tribute to Jack at an event held Jan. 27, hosted by the CRC and the Morris County Republican Committee.
At that event, the MetroWest CRC, on behalf of our entire community, presented Jack with a tzedaka box reflecting his public life and future directions. Jack is a man for whom public service is about caring and sharing and doing for others.
As Jews we take tikun olam — repairing the world — seriously. To the extent we have had a relationship with Jack Schrier, we have benefited as he has helped to make his world, and particularly Morris County, a better place.
Roger B. Jacobs