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39th IAJGS Conference on Jewish Genealogy Jul 28-Aug 2, 2019 Cleveland, Ohio

The Jewish Federation of North Jersey

Jewish Community Council building
The Jewish Community Council headquarters at 390 Broadway
(Photograph courtesy of The Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey)

The Jewish Federation of North Jersey, which today is located in Wayne, evolved from the Jewish Community Council of Paterson. When Nathan Barnert died in November 1927, the community no longer had a paterfamilias to whom it could turn for funds, advice, and authority. For the next four years Jacob Fabian and others shared the burden. In 1933, the council was created to provide a central coordinating structure for the Paterson Jewish organizations. Under the Council, duplication of the effort of local activities was eliminated. The Council's stated goals were: to strengthen Jewish life from within while protecting it against the forces of anti-Semitism from without, to sponsor Jewish culture and education, to cooperate with national organizations, and to work to maintain and preserve Jewish traditions and protect the dignity and honor of the Jewish people of Paterson. It was the umbrella organization for many of Paterson's Jewish charities and social welfare programs.

Under the leadership of its early executives, a fund-raising campaign was established in 1934 called the United Jewish Appeal. Funds were raised for German Jewish Relief as well as overseas and local institutions. Through the years, the Council office was at 179 Ellison Street, later at 45 Church Street, 390 Broadway, and finally on Market Street in Paterson.

During and after the war years, the Jewish Community Council strengthened its position as the spokesperson for Paterson Jews, and intensified its fund-raising efforts to provide rescue, relief and resettlement for the Jews of Europe in America and in Palestine.

In the 1960's with the exodus of many Jewish families from Paterson to suburbia, services were expanded to reach out to Jewish people in Fair Lawn, Wayne, Pompton Lakes and Wyckoff. Campaign needs escalated with the establishment of the State of Israel followed by the Six-Day War.

In 1969 the name of the Jewish Community Council of Paterson was officially changed to the Jewish Federation of North Jersey. Now located in Wayne, it is the central coordinating agency for 28 North Jersey communities, bringing together Jewish leaders and a skilled professional staff who work jointly to determine priorities responsive to Jewish needs.

Today the Federation conducts the annual United Jewish Appeal Campaign; provides a forum for coordinated citizen action on matters of Jewish concern and interest; provides a referral service for those who need help; provides leadership development for Community Service; and publishes The Federation News, a bimonthly newspaper of local Jewish interest. In January 1986, in conjunction with the Federation of Greater Clifton-Passaic, the publication was renamed Jewish Community News.

The current constituent agencies of the Federation are: Community Relations Committee, Council on Aging, Daughters of Miriam Center for the Aged, Fair Lawn Jewish Community Council, Frisch School, Jewish Family Service, Jewish Students Association at William Paterson College, YM-YWHA of North Jersey, Yavneh Academy, Barnert Hospital, Regional High School, Federation Apartments, Solomon Schecter Day School.

The communities included in the Jewish Federation of North Jersey are: Allendale, Bloomingdale, Butler, Elmwood Park, Fair Lawn, Franklin Lakes, Haledon, Hawthorne, Kinnelon, Lincoln Park, Little Falls, North Haledon, Oakland, Paterson, Pequannock, Pompton Lakes, Pompton Plains, Prospect Park, Ringwood, Riverdale, Rochelle Park, Saddle Brook, Totowa, Waldwick, Wanaque, Wayne, West Milford, and Wyckoff.

The Holocaust Committee -- JONA

The Jewish Organization of New Americans (JONA) was organized by survivors of the Holocaust with the help of the Paterson YM-YWHA. JONA was the successor to Club Freedom, the first organized group formed by new Americans who survived the horrors of World War II.

On April 30, 1950, JONA joined with other Yiddish-speaking groups in Paterson to conduct New Jersey's first commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. The first program was conducted entirely in Yiddish, as were the succeeding programs, through 1960. In order to involve the English-speaking Jewish organizations, the Holocaust Committee requested the support of the Jewish Community Council, today known as the Jewish Federation of North Jersey.

With the Federation's full support and backing, the Commemoration evolved from a Paterson-centered event with a limited audience to a community-wide observance which draws audiences in excess of 800 people. The Annual Commemoration of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and Yizkor for the six million Jewish martyrs is the single largest yearly gathering sponsored by the Jewish Federation of North Jersey.

Our Paterson Jewish Heritage (1987), pp. 13-15