Newsletter – August 2015

August 2015

Our newsletters are currently being written by a revolving group of Board members and guest writers drawn from our membership list. Moe Liss, the Treasurer of the JHSNJ and a member of its Executive Board, has written our August 2015 newsletter.

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THE “Y”, CAMP VACATION, CAMP VERITANS AND LIFE EXPERIENCES

            My mom and dad had the foresight, back in the mid 1940’s, to send their son to camp during the hot and brutal summer days in Paterson.  I was living on Graham Avenue, near 12th Avenue at that time of my life and my friends and I all went to Camp Vacation at the Paterson YM-YWHA.   I still have fond memories of those summers at Camp Vacation, even though we spent 90% of the time inside the building, not at some beautiful, grass covered camp grounds.  It was there that I first learned how to swim, do arts and crafts and play punchball on the “Y” roof.  Most importantly, it was where I discovered the lifelong values of camaraderie, fair play, sharing, team work and respect for one another.

            In 1950, the Veritans Club of Paterson purchased 65 acres of land at the old Hobart estate in North Haledon and asked the “Y” to conduct a day camp on those grounds.  Thus began a 60+ year history of Camp Veritans and the “Y”.  I was 17 during that first summer, which was too young to become a counselor so my first job there was working as a waiter/junior counselor.   I would continue to work there until 1965, becoming a senior counselor, Unit Head and eventually, Assistant Director or the entire camp.

            My fondest memory of all my 15 years of camp experience was in 1951, the first year I was actually in charge of my own bunk, a group of 12-14 boys whose ages were between 8 and 10 years old.  We had a great summer…playing softball, having cookouts, going on overnight hikes, and swimming twice a day.  For me, the most important part of that summer was how well those boys played together and supported one another. Their camaraderie was outstanding.  I was so impressed with that aspect of my  summer’s experience that I wrote each boy a postcard at the close of camp and invited each of them to continue their friendships and the activities they enjoyed so much over that summer by forming a boys club at the Paterson “Y”.  Little did I know back then, that the same club of  8-10 year old boys would eventually blossom into a group called “The Spartans”, a club still going strong today, 64 years later!

            Those early camp experiences at the “Y”, Camp Vacation and Camp Veritans, would have a great influence on my life as they were the motivating factors that led me to choose teaching and education as my career and the rest, as they say, is history.    

Moe Liss, Treasurer of the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey

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Moe Liss leading a picnic outing with his “Spartan’s” at Garrett Mountain, Paterson, NJ c.1954 Front row l-r:  Irwin Harelick, Bobby Nussman, David Rockford, Howie Sachs and Leon Kurland….second row l-r:  Paul Grossman, Moe Liss, Mel Druin, Alan Geisler and Jerry Grabowsky

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Camp Veritans 1953. Moe Liss with his bunk. Some of these boys were to become future Spartans. 1st row…L-R  Leonard Shimshack, ?, George Margolis, Gerry Berkowitz, Irwin Harelick,? 2nd row…L-R.  Howard Scheikowitz, Bob Levy(?)or Paul Hoffspiegel(?), Charlie Oksenberg, Marvin Newman, Mel Druin and ? Moe Liss is in the background.