May 2013

In case you haven’t heard, Jerry is at last taking a back seat and will be administering assistance from that back seat.  There will be some new drivers continuing the journey begun over 30 years ago by a dedicated group concerned with preserving our Jewish heritage in north Jersey.

Our task right now is a cumbersome one.

For one year Michael Kemezis has been placing records in acid-free boxes in order to release them from the corrugated boxes they have been stored in.  Ellen and Arnold Cohen have been sorting items in categories, entering certain records into the computer and encapsulating photos in acid-free sleeves. Michael Bornstein has been removing rusted staples and paper clips.  Miriam Gray has been sorting our Jewish book collection.  Anne Meyers, Ina Harris and Mireille Schuck are busy coordinating our upcoming gala dinner on May 21st.  Dorothy Greene is obsessed with Photo Friday and has been picking through hundreds of photos in order to decide which to present.  Lou Mechanic has been editing articles and entering records into our computer.  I have been going through scrap books and enclosing them in acid-free acetate sheets in order to preserve them and make them easier to handle.  There is still much that needs to be done.  We are proceeding at a slow but even pace but we are making progress. We will eventually need climate controlled space to ensure that what we are doing will not be undone and will not in any way harm our archives.

You will be hearing new voices and I am not certain you will see new faces but there will definitely be a change. Some of those new voices will be Dorothy Greene, President; Vice-Presidents – Miriam Gray and Lou Mechanic; Treasurer – Allan Snider; and Recording Secretary- Lou Mechanic. Your financial help and encouragement is still very much needed as well as any records or memorabilia you discover that will enhance our archives.  Please, expose our mission where ever and when ever you can.  I will be here to answer and try to research any questions you may have.  Even though I am in the back seat I am not leaving and I believe they will not leave me by the roadside.  I will now be more readily available to concentrate on sorting and preserving items that have been inaccessible.

The month of May celebrates Mother’s Day and we are grateful to all the mothers and women who have brought us here to this place and time.  Please don’t forget to say thank you in any way possible. We would also be very remiss if we didn’t mention the importance of Memorial Day, a day of remembrance of those who died in our country’s service. It is our feeling that it would be wonderful if Americans return the day to its sacred and solemn origins. It’s nice to have a 3-day weekend but it greatly distracts us from the importance and meaning of that day when it is incumbent upon us to reflect on those who gave so much for us. We want our readers to know that that 2282 members of the Paterson Jewish community served in WWII and 42 of them never came home.

Moving forward, the Jewish Historical society will always be a two-sided coin.  One side will give joy and memories to all those who visit, view “Photo Friday” or read our newsletter. The other side of the coin will impart knowledge, pride and will be the embodiment of what it means to be Jewish in north Jersey and the world community.

We have a responsibility to treasure and preserve all aspects of the Jewish experience, tangible and otherwise. We want the people in the future to know us and how we lived.   Our mission is to have rotating exhibits, lectures in schools and invitations to students to do research at our facility. We need to expand more into Bergen County.  In addition to adding more source material to our collection we also plan to complete our massive project on the “Prominent Jews of the Modern Golden Age of Paterson”. Anne Meyers, Ina Harris and Mireille Schuck are diligently researching this production in addition to working out the details of “Jerry’s Night”.

We are all a part of the the community of north Jersey and Paterson and Newark is where it all began. There is no escaping it! The JHSNJ exists to make it fun and serious at the same time. Our most important commitment is to preserve our heritage. I am honored to carry the torch passed to me by our long-time president, Jerry Nathans, a most dedicated human being. As Jerry says, “Have you checked your closets lately”?

Jerry Nathans, President Emeritus

Dorothy Douma Greene, President