April 2013

The time has come for me to move off the stage and out of the spotlight.  It is time for someone else to take center stage and have the spotlight shine on them.  It is a time to again say thank you to everyone who helped create the Society and make it the important instrument that it is.  If Sylvia Firschein had not called for volunteers to begin orahistories all of our archives would probably be in some trash dump.  I personally am indebted to Hashem for allowing me the opportunity to assist in developing the organization and to save and preserve our Jewish presence and heritage in north Jersey.  The curtain will not remain down long before you will be introduced to Dorothy Douma Greene.  You have read about her and her contributions to the Society in my monthly newsletters.  Dorothy is equipped to take center stage and carry on our mission and we all look forward to working with her.

Passover is almost over but our wandering is not.  We will be saying Yizkor for those who have departed and were unable to see our accomplishments during their lifetimes.  Our archives are being transferred from corrugated boxes to acid-free boxes.  It is a completely different space than it was one year ago.  We will soon need a climate-controlled space to ensure the life of our collection.  We still need equipment in order to reinstate our Oral History program.  We are still in need of a great many things.  We are in need of people with the special talent to translate Yiddish and Hebrew both written and printed because we have photographs of gravestones that need to be translated into English.  We also need someone with a darkroom who can help preserve some of our photographs. In addition, we still  have need of someone to transfer our oral cassettes to something more permanent. Rutgers University has offered to help however, our project may be distracting them from more important things.

In going through boxes in order to sort and preserve items, I have come across items I forgot we ever had.  Tears come to my eyes when I think of all we could have lost if a small group had not rallied to a distress call from a librarian who knew nothing of the gifts the Jews have given to north Jersey communities.  Historians often ignored a Jewish presence and, as a result, so very little has been written or noted through the years.  Jewish people arrived in north Jersey about 1840 when European Jews fled their countries to avoid pogroms and oppression and found a different world among their former German neighbors who had settled here in America.

Our Photo Friday program instituted by Dorothy Greene, assisted by Lou Mechanic and Mike Kemezis has generated a tremendous response from all corners of the country.  People have been asking to be included in the list of recipients on each Friday.  We seek exposure in any form.  It is important to our being and our future.

I wish to thank all those who have helped make us what we are today.  For me to name individuals would be an endless task and I am certain I would omit many names knowing the state of my current memory.  There is still much to be done but at least we have something to show for our efforts. Come visit us on Monday, Wednesday or Friday between 11 and 3.  We are closed on Jewish holidays.

We wish the State of Israel another joyous Independence Day and hope our readers enjoy the rest of Passover. Don’t forget to check your closets!

Jerry Nathans, Pres.