Peter Cole, born in 1957 in Paterson, is the National Jewish Book Award-winning author of three books of his own poems and many volumes of translations of Hebrew and Arabic poetry. “The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse from the Jewish Tradition” is forthcoming from Yale University Press.
Cole was not aware of the work of Jerry Nathans of the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey, who has collected 300 boxes full of documents and paraphernalia now housed at the Barnert Medical Center in Paterson.
“While I’m not familiar with this archive, working on the [book on the Cairo] Geniza has without a doubt sharpened my appreciation of efforts like these,” he told The Jewish Standard.
He called Paterson “a compelling place to grow up.” Raised in the Conservative movement, Cole and his family attended services at both the Reform Barnert Temple and the Conservative Temple Emanuel, “depending on who took us.” Both synagogues have since moved to Franklin Lakes in Bergen County.
Cole’s grandfather, Dr. Sandor A. Levinsohn, was one of the first pediatricians in Paterson and worked for many years at Barnert.
“I lived in Paterson until I was eight, but went to school there for another year or two after moving to an adjacent suburb,” related Cole. “My grandparents on both sides raised their families there, on the East Side, and my father, the late Murray L. Cole, ran a law office in downtown Paterson for many years. So the ties remained, long after we moved.”