Historical society will digitize early local Jewish papers

Historical society will digitize early local Jewish papers

The mission of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater MetroWest, founded in 1990 by Saul Schwarz and Ruth and Jerome Fien, is to serve as the archival repository of the Jewish community of Greater MetroWest, encompassing Essex, Morris, Sussex, Union, and portions of Somerset counties. It carries out that mission by collecting and preserving public records of historical significance, and making them available to the public. The vision and hope of the founder and first president, Ruth Fien, was to “strengthen our Jewish identity and our continuity as a community.”

To that end, JHSGMW has digitized two iconic publications, the Jewish Chronicle and the Newark Jewish Times, thanks to support from the Paula and Jerry Gottesman Family Supporting Foundation of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater MetroWest NJ and from Julie Abraham Stone and Lewis Stone. The landmark project represents a milestone in preserving and sharing the rich heritage and history of Jewish communities in the Greater MetroWest area and is especially exciting as the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ celebrates its centennial.

Through this initiative, people around the world have gained access to historical newspapers through an online archival platform. This year, JHSGMW has seen more than 35,000 new users and hosted nearly 300,000 interactions with its digital archives from more than 143 countries.

The Jewish Chronicle, published from 1921 to 1943, was a source of news, commentary, and community engagement for the Jewish community. Anton Kaufman reported for Morgen-Zeitung, a Berlin newspaper, before owning and publishing the Jewish Chronicle. The influential paper was fiercely committed to Jewish life; it went to about 70,000 households in and beyond Newark. When he died in 1943, Mr. Kaufman was honored by hundreds of mourners at Temple B’nai Jeshurun — then in Newark — and he was buried in its cemetery in Hillside. The synagogue’s rabbi, Solomon Foster, who also was the paper’s chief editorial writer, gave his eulogy.

Similarly, the Newark Jewish Times, dating back to 1943, played a pivotal role in chronicling the events and achievements of the local Jewish community.

Issues of both publications have been preserved in digital format, allowing researchers, historians, educators, and community members to explore and engage with these archives easily. From historical articles and photographs to advertisements and editorials, the digitized newspapers offer a window into the vibrant tapestry of Jewish life in the Greater MetroWest area over the decades.

Mark Polson, transition chair of the JHSGMW, is grateful to the Paula and Jerry Gottesman Family Supporting Foundation and the Stone family for their visionary support of this project. “The digitization of the Jewish Chronicle and Newark Jewish Times represents a significant milestone in our ongoing mission to preserve and promote the rich heritage of Jewish communities in our region,” he said. “We are immensely grateful to our community and donors for their commitment to ensuring that these invaluable historical resources are accessible to all.”

The Jewish Historical Society of Greater MetroWest hosts the Jewish Chronicle’s and Newark Jewish Times’ digitized archives; its website provides a simple interface for browsing, searching, and exploring these historical treasures. It also includes links for the Jewish Horizon (1982 – 1997) and the New Jersey Jewish News (1946 – 2016).

For more information about the Jewish Historical Society, go to its website. To make an appointment to tour the archive or set up an initial meeting for research, email Karen Auerbach Bocaletti at KBocaletti@jfedgmw.org.

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