Newsletter – December 2015

First, a word from Jerry Nathans, President Emeritus of the JHSNJ – I wish to extend my thanks and deepest gratitude to the Boards of the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey, as well as to its committees, donors, members, and volunteers that have made the Society a true historic site. I am certain that those who began this mission 40 years ago are smiling down on us. We have come a long way. Our ‘Promised Land’ in Fair Lawn is our fifth home and I am personally grateful that I have been allowed to enter it. The outpouring of enthusiasm at our grand opening was most gratifying and has encouraged us to continue our mission of collecting and preserving over 170 years of our Jewish heritage in north Jersey. The publicity generated by our grand opening has led to members’ offers to both volunteer and donate additional items to our archives. It is heartening to me that many also expressed a desire to visit and bring their children and grandchildren. This is a time of year to give ‘thanks’ and to be thankful. May we continue to grow…..Jerry Nathans, President Emeritus, JHSNJ”

Our newsletters are currently being written by a revolving group of Board members and guest writers drawn from our membership list. We encourage readers who wish to submit prospective future newsletters to do so. Topics can range from neighborhoods, businesses, camps, or community centers and could include family memories or personal experiences you have had in the north Jersey area. Ina Harris Cohen, our corresponding secretary and a member of our Executive Board, has written our December 2015 newsletter.


School Days…  Those of us who lived in Paterson shared in those wonderful days. Most of the Jewish community attended Public Schools 4, 6, 10, 13, 20, 21, 25, or 26 . Our collective memories recall the most talented of teachers who challenged our young minds and quenched our thirst for knowledge. Those educators enabled  us attending Eastside and Central High Schools to expand upon those elementary resources without regard as to whether we happened to choose Academic, Commercial, Home Economics, Industrial Arts, or Fine Arts curriculums.

 Eastside High School was one of the finest educational facilities in the nation at that time. Not only were we educated in the sciences, math, history, foreign languages and English/journalism; but, in addition, we were encouraged to widen our horizons with music, art, athletics and service. Clubs abounded; there was something for everyone.

Even putting all that knowledge aside, it was the friendships formed and cultivated there that we  valued so much. The fun times,  whether they were at  school or  “Y” activities, sororities, fraternities, AZA, BBG, Eastside Park or socializing at the ‘Cozy,’ ‘Dric’s’, and the other eateries,  are still a large part of our memories.

Upon graduation most of us continued our education in the finest of universities and colleges. So many of us accepted the examples set forth and became teachers ourselves.  I taught 7th and 8th grades at  Public School #21 for 2 years and then spent the remainder of my tenure teaching 7th and 8th grade at Public School # 20. It was not uncommon to live in the neighborhood where we taught. The curriculums were rich in content, pull-down maps were affixed to the top of the chalk boards, and the Palmer method was duly posted above the chalk boards. Teachers taught every subject in their self contained classrooms. Those years were among the best of my life and my students are still the joys of my life.

I’ll always recall when my 7th grade class of ’66-’67, without my knowledge, wrote to Dodger pitcher Sandy Koufax telling him they had a nice Jewish girl for him. My students attempted to get out of homework by playing upon my sympathy regarding all the work they would have that day at Hebrew School. Thanks to social media I am still in contact with hundreds of my students and am proud of their achievements. My heart fills with joy and such satisfaction when they tell me of the influence I had upon their lives.

I am sure many of you reading this newsletter that have lived in Passaic, Clifton, Teaneck and the other areas of Northern Jersey share these same kinds of memories. The Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey has yearbooks and pictures of graduating classes and teachers among its collection. We would love to build upon our reservoir of mementoes of our school years and hope you will share some of your photos with us at our new HOME in Fair Lawn.

 Starting November 30 we will be open from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We invite you to visit us by calling for an appointment at 201-300-6590 or e-mailing us at  Members who would like to attend our annual meeting are cordially invited to drop in to our site at 12:30pm on December 20th.

The JHSNJ would like to thank Bob Lane of the Nathan Lane Insurance Agency, 595 Goffle Rd in Wyckoff and Computer Matrix, 1152 State Highway 10 in Randolph, NJ for their invaluable assistance in extracting ‘lost’ information from one of our JHSNJ computers that crashed.

We wish all of you a Happy Chanukah.

Ina Cohen Harris, Corresponding Secretary, JHSNJ