April 2012

April and the month of Nissan usher in the observance of Passover and the celebration of the Jewish people from Egypt, a story of sorrow and hope. This is also the story of the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey. It took us 140 years to realize what we had missed since the arrival here of the German Jews from Europe in search of a better life.

When Silvia Firschein,z”l, put out a call for volunteers to conduct oral interviews to record the Jewish presence in North Jersey little did we realize the mitzvah we were doing and the hope of retaining our local Jewish heritage.

The Jews leaving Egypt were blessed in their wandering and survived with manna from heaven. TheSociety also dreams of manna after wandering around for thirty years in search of a home. Our dream is for green manna to sustain us. We ask for your participation for this green manna to become a reality. Please join The Society as a member – $18. for an individual membership and $36. per family. Extra contributions are gratefully accepted and remember all contributions are tax-deductible. Should you know of a foundation that might support us, kindly let us know. We hope to expand our collection further with more historical items of interest from BergenCounty.

We continue to identify people in photographs and several new volunteers have visited and taken on this important identification task. We have yet to receive any information about the sons of Helen Alexander Wolfe whose parents maintained the mikvah at 38 Paterson Street. We recently were able to supply some information for an article by Rod Leith for the South Bergen newspaper that related the story of the Jewish communities of Passaic and Rutherford. The article appeared on March 15th in the South Bergenite Newspaper about Temple Beth-El in Rutherford and the early Jewish community of Rutherford. The Society is proud to have contributed to the article and to have put Rod in touch with Rabbi Chaim Wasserman who now divides his time between Passaic and Jerusalem. The article tells of Jewish men from Rutherford who walked all the way to Passaic to observe religious services.

The Society’s archives contain records from Temple Emanuel, Passaic and Congregation B’nai Jacob, in Passaic. These records have yet to be sorted and catalogued. Anyone having other records relative to the Jewish community of Passaic or its environs are asked to notify the Society so that we may add them to our archives before they disappear forever.

A request from Hallie Potocki was resolved when our Dorothy Greene sorted through old Paterson Crites seeking the obituary of Evelyn Freeman. Dorothy found the obituary which gave us an approximate date of death and that led us to the Paterson Library where a copy of Evelyn’s obituary was found listing the place of burial as Workman’s CircleCemetery in Saddle Brook.

I recently got a call from Maxine Schein of Marietta, GA. Maxine and her family moved there 12 years ago from Glen Rock and she called to tell us she had several items for our archives. She asked us if we wanted them. The answer was decidedly YES! A call also came from Sid Cohen in Wayne which brought us 2 photos. One picture is of his grandfather standing on the running board of a  Gordon & Jacobs meat truck which was then located at 167 River Street in Paterson. The second photo depicts his family posing at a 50th anniversary celebration. To the Society these photos are priceless. We occasionally supply items to the magazine, L’chaim,a BergenCounty publication. We look forward to sharing more items with them in the future.

In a March 17, 2012 article in the Herald News, Martin Feitlowitz, in “Requiem for the Royle Mill” noted that “Paterson lost an important part of their history.” Martin quotes the eminent historian and author, David McCullough, who wrote “How much of historic America, how much of our national heritage, will be left for future generations? And what does it say about us, of our values, of our regard for those that will follow, not to say those who went before us, if we citizens stand by while other destroy historic America……” Our mission and our efforts can be likened to the recent demolition of the Paterson mill.

The Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey is extremely pleased and excited to announce our association with Viridian Energy. This new relationship will provide significant cost savings to YOU, our readers, on both your gas and electric bills while maintaining your existing relationship with your current energy provider. Additionally, the environment will benefit because Viridian does provide a certain percentage of their energy as “green.” If you enroll in the Viridian program through the Society we will also derive a small benefit which will help defray our expenses. Your billing and service will continue to be provided through your current energy provider so we look at this as a “win, win…..” If you can help us out, and yourselves as well, please enroll by contacting our Dorothy Greene here at the Society, telephone862-239-4103 or by eMail: jhsnnj@gmail.com. Dorothy can explain to you exactly how the program works.

I am scheduled to speak at Temple Beth Tikvah in Wayne on Tuesday, April 17 at 1:00p.m.before the Senior Group. All are welcome to attend but if you are not a member of the group, a $5.donation is requested.

     Have you checked your closet lately?

 Jerry Nathans, President