Harold Colton-Max and Nomi Colton-Max were honored as one of the area’s leading “power couples” at Essex County’s annual Jewish Heritage Celebration.
Held April 29 in the rotunda of Newark’s Hall of Records, the ceremony highlighted the achievements of Harold, CEO of the Jewish Community Housing Corporation, and Nomi, president of Congregation Beth El in South Orange.
“They have both enjoyed tremendous personal success in their careers,” said County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, presenting them with the Star of Essex Awards. “She is president of a synagogue and he is CEO of the JCHC. That’s pretty powerful…. Keep up the good work, especially to the Jewish community.”
Speakers at the event included Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver (D-Dist. 34), who told the audience of 100 that she had grown up in an African-American family in the Weequahic section of Newark at a time when most of its residents were Jews.
“Something I learned many years ago is how the Jewish faith makes it your obligation and incorporates charity, philanthropy, and, if you see someone’s hand out, you are supposed to grab that hand,” she said. Addressing Nomi, she said, “When we look at what you have dedicated your life to at Congregation Beth El, it is a reflection of your staying true to your religious faith.”
“To be recognized for something that you love really makes it so special,” said Nomi, who has served as a congregation board member for the past 11 years. “I am energized every day at Beth El.”
In addition to her professional role as a foreign policy analyst, Nomi is an advocate for progressive Zionist and Jewish causes. She has been a board member, vice president, and membership chair for Ameinu (formerly the Labor Zionist Alliance) and a member of the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.
“Living in a community where the values of community charity — tzedaka and tikun olam — making the world better — is why we did choose to live in Essex County and why it is a perfect place to raise our children,” she said.
Harold Colton-Max has been CEO of the JCHC — a partner agency of the GMW federation — since 2004. He oversees the organization’s four facilities, with 470 units of independent and assisted-living options for those 62 years or older.
“He does absolutely fantastic work,” said Freeholder Pat Sebold of Livingston. “Harold’s commitments to providing low-cost affordable housing to low- and moderate-income households is demonstrated by the leadership positions he has held in state and local coalitions.”
Harold noted that he and his family live in South Orange, where two of the JCHC homes are located. “I am not only working in the community, but I am of the community, and I am serving the people of the community,” he said. “I am truly at home both in the Jewish community and here in Essex County, where I really wanted to be.”