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This profile was last updated on 12/2/11  and contains information from public web pages.

Employment History

  • President
    Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey

Board Memberships and Affiliations

  • Founder
    Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey
13 Total References
Web References
The Jewish Standard, 2 Dec 2011 [cached]
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.
Jerry Nathans: Guardian of ..., 4 Jan 2008 [cached]
Jerry Nathans: Guardian of history
Jerry Nathans is a man with a mission - to collect and safeguard the artifacts and documents that testify to Paterson and this area's Jewish past.President of the Jewish Historical Society, Nathans, who lives in Wayne, closed his West Paterson store last year and has turned his attention to revitalizing the society and engaging the rest of us in his passionate quest.He would like to see his collection - boxed in his store and at William Paterson University - permanently housed and properly displayed.He'd also like to see it grow.One problem he's encountered, the Standard reported, is that people throw away treasures they don't even know they have.
North Jersey Media Group providing local news, sports & classifieds for Northern New Jersey!, 16 Nov 2006 [cached]
It's a dusty, nostalgic chore: Jerry Nathans spends most of his afternoons packing up a collection of paintings, memorabilia, mobiles, watercolors, posters, antiques and photographs.
The 79-year-old Wayne resident has spent nearly 30 years preserving Jewish history in northern New Jersey.Although he is closing his business, he intends to continue collecting for future generations.
Nathans purchased it in 1972, installed a large circular drive and opened the shop/gallery the following year.
"They called us and now I have all four," says Nathans, who got the call because he founded the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey.A portion of the historical society's collection is being stored at Nathans' Art Gallery.Other artifacts and oral histories are housed at William Paterson University, Wayne.
"I'm the only meshuggene around" who knows what's in the 250 huge boxes outgrowing the space at WPU, Nathans says, using a Yiddish word that translates, loosely, as "crazy person."
Nathans, who established the historical society in 1979, is looking for a centrally located home for his Jewish history collection so it can be studied by scholars and students.
In fact, that's how the historical society started.Nathans says he was at the YM-YWHA of North Jersey in Wayne in 1978 when a woman asked librarian Sylvia Firschein, in the Charles and Bessie Goldman Judaica Library, for information about her grandfather.
"The librarian put out a request for oral histories, and I was one of the first to respond," says Nathans, formerly of Paterson.
The Barnert family paintings are stored next to a giant menorah that was rejected by the Temple Beth Tikvah in Wayne where Nathans served as president.
"Because the main candle, or shamus, was on the same level as the others and not raised, it was rejected by the rabbi," Nathans explains.
A banner that found its way to Nathans literally came from the streets of Paterson.The blue-and-gold banner features the six-pointed Star of David and crossed American and Israeli flags.A homeless man was using it as a blanket whenit was retrieved by police, who gave it to the Paterson Museum, The museum passed it on to Nathans.
Collecting artifacts, however, is only part of the mission.Nathans also searches Jewish cemeteries and the Jewish sections of Christian cemeteries, looking for burial spots of peoples' ancestors.
"Just a few days ago, I got a call from a woman who is looking for her uncle, who was a principal in Paterson between 1915 and 1920," Nathans says.
Nathans discovered that information in an old city directory.
On another occasion, he got a call from a New Jersey woman who later moved to Washington state, asking about a deceased uncle.Nathans says he located the grave in the Passaic Junction Cemetery in Saddle Brook.
Sometimes, he says, he contacts companies like Knoble Construction Company, which does grounds maintenance for area cemeteries.
Nathans says the historical society has become a one-man show since the death of his wife Rita in 1999.But the job of chronicling 160 years of Jewish history in northern New Jersey remains critically important.He invites people interested in the preservation of Jewish history to contact him by e-mail at, by telephone at 973-785-9119 or write Jewish Historical Society, P.O. Box 708, West Paterson, NJ 07424.
UJA Bergen: Community Guide: Organizations and Networking, 28 Feb 2003 [cached]
Contact: Jerry Nathans or Mark Auerbach
Photos by Jerry Szubin Jerry ..., 26 April 2008 [cached]
Photos by Jerry Szubin Jerry Nathans is the last guardian of Paterson's Jewish past.President of the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey, Nathans, who lives in Wayne, has spent close to 30 years amassing artifacts and tracking down information about the silk city's Jewish history, as well as that of neighboring communities.At its height, the society was an integral part of a thriving, multi-faceted Jewish world, with a board of directors and a dues-paying membership of 70.It sponsored lectures, exhibits, and other events throughout the year.But hard times befell the organization these past 10 years and Nathans is alone now, the caretaker of 150 years of history, packed into 300 boxes.
... Jerry and Shirley Birenz produce a new edition of their family Haggadah every year.
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