In our opinion there are all kinds of ‘heroes.’ On May 4th, we, the Jewish Historical Society, had our opening reception for our “Local Heroes: Paterson Sports in the Golden Era of the 20th Century” exhibition. Perhaps yellowing and musty with age, our former athletes are being reintroduced to you in vintage photographs. Udita Leberg made the music of long ago resound in our souls with her stirring piano renditions. The exhibit, though not Udita, will continue ‘playing’ through July 4th at the “Y” in Wayne. Be a participant, not just a spectator, in our interactive display by helping us to complete the identifications on these wonderful archival sports photos. In the exhibit our efforts focused prominently on Mort Rittenberg who devoted his entire life to athletics and coaching. He inspired at least two generations of ‘up and coming’ young boys and girls. We also featured Jake Edelstein. He made all Patersonians proud when he became a Major League baseball player. Now 84 years old, Jake came to our reception and swung an imaginary bat next to a younger, life size cut-out of himself.
Athletics and sports associations were major pathways to the acculturation of immigrants into mainstream American life. Athletic competition allowed immigrants to shed the ‘greenhorn’ label that long-time residents affixed to them. Participation in sports necessitated contact with other teams and helped foster group identity and pride. In Paterson, the “Y’s”, the commercially sponsored teams, Negro League baseball, and local semi-pro teams provided venues for many aspiring athletes to make their mark in America.
Paterson, to us, at that time , was a diverse community that had love, music, organizations, temples, beautiful parks, culture, school activities and sports. It was an ideal place to grow up.
On May 20th we honored Dr. Leonard Cole at our second annual gala. Lenny was a successful dentist practicing in Hawthorne and most would have considered that enough of an accomplishment for one lifetime. But not Len. He continued to dedicate his life to the Jewish community…from Birthright Israel, a program that brings Jewish youth for a first time, no cost visit to Israel; the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Federation, Len rolled up his sleeves and dug in. Again, most would have considered that accomplishment enough. But not Len. He then became a leading expert on bio-terrorism. He is frequently called upon to testify before Congress and is interviewed on the major news networks. We all came out to honor Lenny and celebrate his many achievements. The whole exquisite night was his.
Memorial Day is the time to recognize our “ultimate” heroes…the soldiers who went to war on foreign soil and never came home. Some were fresh out of Eastside High School. They left behind families and sweethearts. Paterson sent 2,282 Jewish soldiers to fight in WWII so that we could continue living in ‘the land of the free’. Tragically, 42 of their lives were cut short. On this Memorial Day we remember – Abe Abramson, Joseph Apelhot, Harry Aronowitz, Abram Aronowitz, Barney Bader, Irving Berman, Frank Paul Bernstein, Gerald Bernstein, Seymour Bornstein, Marvin L. Brawer, Emil Chaplin, Aaron S. Cummings, Norman Darrow, Harold Etler, Albert Freeman, Ben Frommer, Robert L. Glatt, Martin Goldberg, Morris Goldberg, Harry Gottlieb, Herbert Gurantz, Harold T. Harris, Sidney Harris, Gerald S. Hirshberg, Irving Horowitz, Joseph Immerman, Theodore Jaffe, Reuben Kahn, Bernard Kaplan, Leo Kaplan, Louis Kaplowitz, Leo Kempner, Kenneth D. Lipschultz, Hyman Mishler, Arnold W. Ostrow, Jack Pakula, James I. Platt, Louis Schwartz, William Schwartz, Jacob Seigal, Max Stein and Saul Walin.
“For all our beauty and hope and joy
We will owe to our lads like you.”*
Dorothy Douma Greene, President
*From: “Young Fellow My Lad” Rhymes of of Red Cross Man, by Robert Service 1916
JHSNJ UPDATE: We would like to thank Udita Leberg for returning to do an encore performance at our annual gala and to Moe Liss for doing an extraordinary job of emceeing the event. A big heartfelt thanks goes out to our volunteers – Anne Friedman Meyers, Ina Cohen Harris, and Mireille Lipsitz Schuck for working on both the exhibit and the gala so unselfishly and brilliantly. Thanks also to Pearl Liss for overseeing our superb ad journal. Thank you both Dan Shapiro and Israel Shapiro for taking photos and videos. Last but not least, thanks to Jerry Nathans, Marty Rittenberg, Alison Faubert, Lou Mechanic, Miriam Kraemer Gray, Barry Citrin, Beverly Solinsky Reilly, Ann Lipsitz Fedor, Sue Glick, Allen Glick, Allan Snider and to our very creative guest art curator, Cristina Deutsch.