Newsletter – February 2014


The sun was dropping in the southwest corner of the horizon, descending as if it were a giant disco ball getting ready to merge with the far off mountains.  The air and sky belonged to winter. Murray G. had better hurry…he had a tree to plant.  It was bitingly cold, the ground was frozen and twilight wasn’t going to linger for long. It was January 16th and he wondered how he was going to get the little elm planted.  “Like last year I should have dug the hole in November and waited for today to drop it in”, he groaned.  All the holidays came early this year.  First Rosh Hashanah came on September 4th with the High Holy days soon behind.  Then of course, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah made their famous ‘same day merger’… all the fun and festivities were suddenly happening  either all at once or way too early.  Today was Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for trees.  He always planted a tree.  As he was digging he was thinking…thinking about such things as only the eye of history sees…


This is the Hebrew Leap Year and the calendar will be adjusted in March. Dates will be aligned  so that we can have Purim in March and Passover in April.  The cycle of the universe will be restored.  All the holidays will fall just right so we will never have to eat a turkey stuffed with potato latkes again for 70,000 years. Who gave my wife that bright idea in the first place?  No matter.  As long as Hanukkah is back in December.  Holidays should be stretched out…hey, President’s Day will be coming in February….I wonder if Lincoln was really Jewish?  After all, his name was Abraham.  I remember reading that somewhere.  I also remember that he revoked an official act of anti-semitism that Ulysses Grant initiated.  He also allowed Jewish chaplains in the military for the first time.  He looks Jewish even though I’ve never seen him wearing a streimel!  I wonder if George Washington was Jewish? George, as we know, is the lad who purportedly confessed to chopping down his dad’s cherry tree. Many years later, that same George Washington, quoted the Hebrew bible saying ‘every one should be able to sit in safety under his own vine or fig tree,and there should be none to make him afraid.”  In George’s profound and famous August 1790 “Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport,RI”{the Touro Synagogue}he reassured our ancestors who fled religious tyranny that life here in the new nation would be different than what they had known before and that, in fact, religious ‘tyranny’ would morph into religious liberty on these shores.

Oh, better buy the wife a nice present for Valentines Day.  She should buy me a present for digging this hole.  How come I never get a present?  Wasn’t it King Solomon who said that marriage was a gamble?  Wasn’t he also the guy who had 700 wives?  Ha!  He was supposed to be wise.  That’s why he said it was a gamble…he believed in the ‘law of averages’…

Speaking of the ‘law of averages’, the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey is having two big events in May.  How did that happen?   First they are having a great big opening reception for the “Local Heroes” Paterson Sports in the 1900’s exhibit at the “Y” (now the YMCA)in Wayne on May 4th.  Following that, they are having their second annual gala honoring Dr. Leonard Cole at the YJCC (the ‘Y’)in Washington Township on May 20th.  They must really be doing well to get Dr. Leonard Cole!  I better get tickets before they’re sold it.  Oh…I love those photos that they send out every Friday…I’m still waiting for my picture to show up….you never know…everyone has their fifteen minutes of fame.  Every time I see those photos it makes me think about the good old days when I used to live in Paterson, first on East 25th Street, then on the corner of 31st near the Barnert Hospital and finally on Saddle River Road, near Fair Lawn Bathing Beach.  I used to commute from Fair Lawn to East Side High so I could finish school with all my buddies.  I wonder where some of my buddies are now?  I should visit the Jewish Historical Society for more of these memories.  This little elm better take root…

Darkness finally fell completely, the tree was straightened, Murray tamped the soft soil down with his big sturdy feet and, at the last minute, decided to circle the tree seven times, once for each day of the week…as if it were his bride.  He lingered for a few leisurely seconds.  Serenity beamed from his heart.  Under the big open sky with the stars blazing brightly, everything was as it should be.

Dorothy Douma Greene, President

Have you checked your closets lately?