July 2012

The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate and shoot fireworks.  This year the celebration has double significance for the Society and we would like to shoot fireworks but the Barnert Medical Complex will not allow it on the grounds or from the roof.  The reason for our excitement is that we appear to be coming out of the dark.  Our new archivist, Michael Kemezis has begun working.  He has been uncovering records long since forgotten and they are being placed in acid-free boxes and labeled.  We have also been removing rusted paper clips from our archives.  Some day we hope to have a climate controlled room in which to maintain these archives.

The Society owes a debt of gratitude to Jason Shames and especially Rob Hyman of Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey for visiting us at Barnert, seeing what we are doing and helping to procure a grant that allows us to hire a part-time archivist and possibly install a phone that works and does not keep disconnecting as we speak.  We hope we can now begin to make order out of our collection.  There aren’t words enough to say thank you!  After more than three years of not having exposed us we received a call from the Jewish Standard, wishing to write an article about us as recipients of the allocation from Jewish Federation.

Even with a grant from Federation, funding is still one of our main concerns.  We strongly need your support and ask that you please join our membership. There are many ways to support us.  The nominal cost to join is $18. for a single and $36. for a family. All donations, of any amount, are welcome.

 We are astounded that not one person has responded to our article about the abandoned cemetery in Clifton.  Not from the Jewish Cemetery Committee, the Jewish Standard or Cong. B’nai Jeshurun.  Since the article appeared we have discovered correspondence relative to the cemetery between the City of Clifton and Alvin Sauer, President of Barnert Temple at the time, and several other people.  I personally do not understand why we seek unknown grave sites in Europe yet ignore an American grave site in our backyard.  This is possibly the earliest Jewish cemetery in New Jersey.  How could the City of Clifton have allowed it to happen that the only access to the cemetery is to climb over a stone wall?  Why is no one interested?  According to our records there may have been about twenty-five burials there.  Several years ago Cong. B’nai Jeshurun removed some of the desecrated grave stones and removed them to Mt. Nebo Cemetery in Totowa.

It is with deep remorse I announce the passing of Frances Abrash Dorman on June 15th in Coconut Creek, FL.  Fran was one of our original founders, an ardent and dedicated supporter of our mission and at one time our Treasurer.  We extend our deepest sympathies to Fran’s family.

Through the years I have received many requests from around the world from people seeking family.  Sometimes I am able to solve the mysteries, many times I cannot.  I intend to place some of these requests in our newsletter in the hope that some of you out there might be able to solve these mysteries.  Following are a few requests recently received:

*Someone from California seeks family from Paterson.  Samuel and Anne Bornstein Hiller lived in Paterson most of their lives.  They immigrated from Grojec (Gritse) Poland in early 1900.  Rose Hiller was born in Paterson, October 1913 and later in life became Mrs. Ruderman.

*Someone from Australia seeks information about family that immigrated from Stolpce, Russia about 1890.  One of possibly seven brothers, Movsha Leiba Milcenzon, changed his name to Morris Miller.  He was born in 1875 and after coming to Paterson lived at 121 Matlock Street.  It is believed he married a woman – Sara – and possibly had two children, Esther and Morris.  Sometime about 1925 the family moved to the Bronx.  Another brother Shloimo or Shleime also came to Paterson but there is no further information about him.

*Someone seeks information about the Goodman family.  Michael and Celia Goodman had three children, Robert, Edith and Florence.  Robert Goodman became a Paterson lawyer and died in 1989.  Celia Goodman’s parents were Peter and Bertha Westerman.  Celia had two sisters, Sara and Fanny.        If anyone has any information on these families please contact us.

I myself have been in and out of cemeteries photographing grave stones and sending them to people.  This is all part of who and what we are.  We ask that you please help us in this endeavor.

Before signing off for the summer, allow me to bring you up-to-date on what is happening at Barnert.  We have a new Board of Trustees that has met twice and are restructuring our operation.  Our year coincides with the calendar year.  Concerned, interested volunteers have been increasing.  We are trying to sort our archives and have been filling a small amount of acid-free boxes in order to preserve what has been collected and need to order more acid-free boxes.  We have been rearranging our exhibited items and if anyone has any display cases we would appreciate hearing from you.  We strongly need people with expertise, expertise in computers and the ability to read and translate Yiddish, as well as Hebrew, either printed or written.

The Jews of North Jersey have contributed much to world culture, music, art and literature.  We are devoted to keeping alive the memory of those people and those Jewish communities of North Jersey that have contributed so much to world culture, music, art and literature so that Jewish children will know what it means to be Jewish and learn about of our local Jewish history going back over 170 years.

We hope to be back September 1st and hope you will look forward to hearing from us.  Have a wonderful and safe summer.  If you have time during the summer, check out your attic and closets.  There must be things that we can preserve about the Jewish communities of North Jersey, before someone comes in and trashes all those treasures.

Jerry Nathans, Pres., and all of us at Barnert Medical Complex