February 25, 2016

From Our Halls to City Hall

Sam Russo ‘18

Just over 20 years ago, a student left Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union after his sophomore year because he wanted to play high school soccer more seriously. Today, that man is the mayor of the second-largest city in New Jersey.
Steven Fulop currently serves as the mayor of Jersey City. Next year, he will be vying for the position of mayor for the second time, as he looks back to Judaism and his time at SSDSEU as a guide, along with many other aspects of his life.
In terms of Judaism, Fulop sees it largely as a way of encouraging analytical and critical thinking, skills that are essential to a career like his. The careful analysis and discussion of texts, like the Talmud, which are taught in Jewish day schools across the world, fostered Fulop’s abilities.
In addition to this type of thinking, the characteristic close-knit family atmosphere that Fulop got to know as an SSDSEU student continues to influence him today.
“The value system that I was a part of at Schechter… certainly contribute[s] to who I am today,” he said.
Even though he did not appreciate it as a student, Fulop recognizes today that the close sense of community and the way that people “look out for each other and care for each other” are some of the aspects of GOA that made and continue to make it such an extraordinary environment.
Because of this sense of community, the mayor commended the strong relationships, which he still maintains, that he built during his time at Schechter.
“Know[ing] how people still associate with me from my time at Schechter, I can comfortably say that it is a special place,” he added.
For GOA students today, Fulop urged them to realize what a great community they are part of. He also recommended that young people don’t just look to prepare themselves for a particular career, but rather work to get a wide variety of tools and experiences.
With regards to his future, Fulop conceded that “there’s a lot of talk about the whole governor’s race,” adding “that the reality is that no decision has been made, and no decision will be made for… months” because of the constantly changing political landscape.
As the interview with Fulop came to a close, he made sure to end with a blessing for GOA and it’s future.
“My time at Schechter was… a good experience, and a lot of the relationships I still have today,” he said. “My hope is that that school stays for decades and decades and decades into the future [and] continue[s] to educate future leaders.”

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