February 2013

We have begun 2013 on a high note and sincerely hope it will continue throughout the coming year.  We are most grateful to all those who support us in any manner.

Someone checked their closet and found four cartons of Hollinger acid-free boxes and has donated them to the Society.  One congregation in the area has generously contributed financially to our mission.  We have been told that congregations are merging.  If you know of one and they wish their records to be preserved please tell them about the Society or let us know and we will contact them.

As a testament to our mission, I would like to tell you about an inquiry we recently received.  Marvin Stiefel, a member of Cong. Ahavath Joseph of Paterson is seeking a copy of a deed for their cemetery on Brockhuizen Lane, Hawthorne.  Unfortunately we cannot help.  We have very few records from Cong. Ahavath Joseph though it has been in existence over one hundred years.  Congregations Ahavath Joseph and B’nai Israel merged several years ago and are now a Yeshiva on Park Avenue in Paterson.  Previously there was no place to deposit such records but now there is.  We implore you to check your desks and closets in the event there may be forgotten records there.

In 1941 my family moved to Fair Lawn from Paterson.  I especially remember having moved a large old steamer trunk along with everything else.  I knew the trunk belonged to a widowed aunt who lived in a Home for the Aged in the Bronx and who we visited quite regularly.  I remember often going into the basement, opening the trunk and being intrigued with its contents, especially the many hand written Yiddish letters.  One day after my aunt had passed away I came home to find the trunk gone.  When I inquired about it, I discovered my mother had donated it to the Salvation Army.  Somehow, for whatever reason, I had taken out some letters and had them in a drawer where they have remained.  Being written in Yiddish, they are in need of translation.

The Society has organization records also written in Yiddish that are in need of translation.  This is our mission, to collect and preserve a part of our history that is daily disappearing.  We were an important part of Paterson history yet very little is recorded or preserved to show that we were here and what we did.  The Society’s mission has since been extended to include Bergen and North Hudson counties.  To anyone who submits photos or articles we ask that you include as much information as possible such as names, dates, location or any other pertinent facts related to the items.

In the month of February we will celebrate the holiday of Purim.  With that in mind we present an excerpt from “A History of the Jews” by Solomon Grayzel:

The story of Esther, Mordecai and Haman is very old and familiar.  No one has as yet identified the Ahasuerus of the story of Esther.  There were several kings by the name Xerxes who might have been meant.  But none of them is known to have had a wife by the name of Vashti or of Esther; none is known to have had a counselor called Haman who was replaced by another named Mordecai.  Nevertheless the story does not sound impossible.  The names are Persian, as is the entire atmosphere of the well-told short story.  Nor is the plot difficult to believe.  In a fit of drunkenness a Persian monarch removed his favorite wife, and later substituted for her another by the name of Hadassah, having also the pagan name of Esther.  One of the king’s counselors, a vain and self-seeking person called Haman, turned out to be hostile to the Jews for no better reason than that Mordecai had hurt his vanity.  Many have hated Jews for no better cause than that, and, like Haman, have dignified their petty hates by clothing them in patriotism.  In their hour of trouble Esther and Mordecai succeeded in winning the king over to the people’s side by disclosing how Haman was motivated by selfish ambitions.  Thus the Jews were saved and established the holiday of Purim…..

Coming up is Paterson Day in Florida. This year it will be held  February 24, 2013 at the Hilton on Hillsboro Blvd in Deerfield Beach/Pompano Florida.Check the 2  following links for updates: https://www.facebook.com/PatersonDayinFlorida and http://www.patersonday.com/.  We seek people in Florida who wish to interview others in order for us to obtain more remembrances of what “was” before those memories disappear.  It has been a long time since we have conducted oral interviews in north Jersey, primarily because we lack the proper equipment.  Hopefully within the next few months we will be able to obtain the proper equipment and again start conducting oral interviews.  Slowly our original cassettes are being digitized in order to preserve them. Share with us your past while you can still remember and share it with us!

The Jewish Standard newspaper is no longer being delivered to the Y in Wayne.  The Society is looking for one or two copies of the December 28, 2012 issue if anyone has the newspaper and will part with it.  We are constantly looking and seeking information.  We are interested in hearing from anyone who might be related or know something about Arthur Collier or his family.  About 1925 Arthur headed a Real Estate and Insurance Co. at 126 Market St., Paterson.  He died Oct. 15, 1928, age 50.  His wife was Gussie Stein and they had a son, George J.  and a daughter Ida. Anyone who might have any information is asked to please contact us.

Does anyone have a photo of the Fair Street Mikvah that was maintained by the Calka family?  We have a photo of the present/new house that replaced the original one.  For several years we have been promised a photo of the Calka house but still have nothing to show for it.  There are so many holes in the story of our heritage that I cannot begin to relate them to you.   We are attempting to fill many gaps and need your help.

If you have not already done so, please visit our new website at www.jhsnj.wordpress.com to keep up with the progress of the Society. You can read past news letters and view some great photos from all the Photo Fridays. Make sure to check back all the time to keep up with all of our great work.

From all of us at the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey to all of you, we wish a very happy Purim.  Please do not forget to check your closets and desks!

Jerry Nathans, Pres.