RYNJ celebrates new wing

RYNJ celebrates new wing

Dedication looses torrent of memories

Some 150 people gathered to celebrate the dedication of the new wing. Photos by Jeanette Friedman

The Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey celebrated another milestone in its 73-year history on Sunday night with the dedication of its new wing on Kinderkamack Road in River Edge. The yeshiva dates to 1937, when Yeshiva of Jersey City and its eight students were housed in the Five Corners Shul. Today the school has almost 1,000 students.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the event’s keynote speaker, quipped that his best title is saba (grandfather). Hoenlein’s grandchildren attend the school, and his family was present in the crowd of 150.

Hoenlein began with a survey of the role of education in Jewish history, but soon segued into politics. He cited examples of Palestinian attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel – from historical revisionism and Holocaust denial to the denial of Jewish connections to the Temple Mount, the Tomb of Rachel, and other Jewish heritage sites. He told the audience that the Iranians had recently threatened to destroy the tombs of Esther and Mordechai, the heroes of Purim, and urged that Jewish students be prepared to stand up to those who would use propaganda and anti-Semitism to destroy Israel and the Jews.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Presidents Conference, was the keynote speaker.

Honey Rosenbaum Senter – the daughter of Aaron and Rosalind Rosenbaum, for whom the school is named – remembers the early ’40s winters, when she and her kindergarten classmates played King of the Mountain on piles of snow opposite the building. Though she is no longer closely involved with the school, Senter, who lives in Teaneck, was one of the key people who helped establish the yeshiva in Bergen County.

Stanley Fass of Teaneck remembers being one of five kids from Weehawken and North Bergen piling into a station wagon every morning and heading for Jersey City. They were Honey Rosenbaum, Fass’ brother Marty, Phil Levitan, Betty Ann Freiman and Michel Werblowsky (now a Teanecker, too). There were five in the January 1948 graduating class, and the ceremony took place in the yeshiva’s new home, a former public school building on New York Avenue in Union City. It also had a new name, adopted in 1947: Yeshiva Hudson County.

Fass, the Rosenbaums, and this reporter, who was in a 1950 kindergarten class (and whose children and grandchildren also attended the yeshiva), remember how the Rosenbaums helped the Hirsches – a couple who fled Europe during the Holocaust and landed in the Union City building, where they lived in an apartment in the basement. The couple acted as caretakers – not just of the building, but of the students. They cooked school lunches, cleaned the building, and generally looked after the students. Sarah Hamm, the general studies principal, traveled from Crown Heights to Union City every day for decades to serve her students. And the Rosenbaums’ upstairs neighbor, a Holocaust survivor, was given a job as a teacher in the Jewish studies department. His daughter, and the children of other Holocaust survivors in the neighborhood, many of them born in Displaced Persons’ camps, got their first taste of American life and American citizenship, as well as their Zionism, from Yeshiva Hudson County.

Yehuda Rosenbaum, left, the president of the school, presents a plaque of appreciation to Azi Mandel for his efforts in the development of the new wing.

In 1979, responding to changing demographics, the yeshiva moved to the New Milford Jewish Center, then to the Jewish Center of Teaneck, and finally to the current location, a site dedicated in 1994 and renamed in 2005 to honor the Rosenbaums.

The ceremony opened with a d’var Torah from Rabbi Shmuel Goldstein, dean of the school, and honored Azi Mandel of Teaneck, a school parent and a principal of Hoboken-based Tree Top Development who donated his services toward the creation of the wing. Mandel, whose parents and grandparents were present, was awarded a plaque that will be placed at the wing’s front door. He told The Jewish Standard he was glad to give his time and energy to such a worthy project. It was his way of giving back just a little for all the good the yeshiva had given him and his family.

The event was chaired by Gila and Carl Guzman of Teaneck.

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