On page 18, Jewish Standard editor Joanne Palmer has written an excellent feature on the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey and the man who has kept this nearly invisible treasure alive these many years. Jerome Nathans is a hero of history, namely the history of the Jews of Paterson. We applaud him.
We are a people of memory. Chanukah, for example, is all about memory. We look to the past, not to wallow in self-pity for what befell us or crow with gusto over our successes, but to remember what was as a way of understanding who we are, how we got that way, and what we must do.
Nathans is set to retire after many years of almost thankless devotion to his task. Someone else will have to take up the challenge. That someone will be tasked with finding funding in a world of diminished giving across the board, and of finding a new and with luck a permanent home for the society and its exhibits.
If there is a Jewish institution out there with space to spare – a school, perhaps, or a synagogue, or some other communal entity – we urge it to consider providing that space to the JHSNNJ. Obviously, the closer to Paterson, the better, but any centrally accessible place in the catchment area will do.
It would be a pity if such space exists somewhere but is not offered, and the society has to shut down for good.