Newsletter – September 2015

Our newsletters are currently being written by a revolving group of Board members and guest writers drawn from our membership list. Miriam Kraemer Gray, our vice president and a member of our Executive Board has written our September 2015 newsletter.


Holiday Newsletter from the


The High Holidays are upon us!!  Some of us remember this special time of year by conjuring up memories of the sweet aromas of our childhood homes when moms and grand moms prepared the delectable Rosh Hashanah and pre-Yom Kippur festive meals. Some of us remember the agony and ecstasy of shopping for special outfits to wear to the synagogue in honor of this special season.  We remember too, the special feeling of awe mixed with a sense of security, as we sat with our families in our synagogues.  And, this special time of year always brought with it a profound realization of community.

Rosh Hashanah, literally, the “head of the year”, celebrated as our “new year” is, however, the 7th month on the Jewish calendar!  Our first month is Nisan, the month of Pesach, the Festival of Freedom.  Nisan celebrates the birth of our people!!!  Nisan also celebrates the spring rebirth in nature.  So, what is Rosh Hashanah?  It is the celebration of the creation of the world.  It is indeed a universal observance acknowledging the creation. Creation=beginning!!   So, we begin again!  We apologize to friends and family for wrongs that we did during the year hoping for a fresh start.  We look back on the previous year in order to look forward to the coming year.  How can we improve ourselves?  How can we participate in the world around us in a positive, philanthropic way?  Through the text of ourMachzor (the holiday prayer book) we are prompted to do some meaningful introspection.

This new year of 5776 is special for us at the JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF NORTH JERSEY.  For us, 5776 is indeed a new beginning.  After wandering from location to location for over 35 years, we are finally crossing the river to our HOME!!!!   That which started as the dream of Jerry Nathans, Sylvia Firschein  and Reeva Isaacs is finally coming to fruition.  The significance of our move at this time of year is so very compelling.  With love and great care we will pack our past, the past of the Jewish communities of Passaic, Hudson and Bergen Counties.  With great hope and responsibility we will begin a new stage in our task of preserving our history.

The Board of the JHSNJ began this new chapter in our history by engaging a strategic planner (with the help of a grant from the Jewish Federation of North Jersey) Through the hard work of Sheila Eckhaus Guston we began the process of looking back in order to look forward.  Now, with new by-laws and new plans, we are ready to cross that river!  We thank our volunteers who worked so hard and so professionally to find our new location and complete on the purchase of our new home.  We are getting ready for our renewal; our new beginning.  At this time of new beginnings, we prepare to “cross over” to our home.

Our Board has honored the dreams of yesterday’s founders.  We now move forward by offering the Jewish communities of the area a museum, a research center, an archive of the accomplishments of the communities of northern New Jersey.  We face our new challenges with resolve that through cooperation, hard work, and tangible goals, our opportunities are infinite.

Our Rabbis teach that during this season we should give Tzedaka! (which is sometimes badly translated from its Hebrew origin as “charity” or “justice”)


Help preserve our inspirational past so that future generations can be inspired! Please make a donation to the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey during this season of atonement and of new beginnings.

May you and your families enjoy a new year of abundant blessings and worthy achievements.

Miriam Kraemer Gray, Vice President and Religious Affairs Advisor of the JHSNJ