The Jewish Historical Society (JHS) of New Jersey was established in 1990 as the community’s official guardian of its rich history. We search, acquire, and preserve significant and precious documents, photographs, artifacts, memorabilia, and oral and written histories of people and organizations comprising the greater MetroWest community, which includes Essex, Morris, Sussex, Union, and parts of Somerset Counties, New Jersey.
As a full-service historical society, the JHS hosts public forums on major historical Jewish events, sponsors and publishes papers and books on subjects of historical Jewish interest, maintains an active Speakers Bureau, and creates and sponsors traveling exhibitions using as their inspiration the 600 collections in its archives.
Particularly notable are JHS’s traveling exhibitions, such as “Who’s Minding the Store: From Mom and Pop Merchants to Supermarket Entrepreneurs,” which traces the rise of a unique category in the annals of American retailing; “Born at the Beth,” which featured a photo gallery of current and former MetroWest community residents born at the Newark landmark; “The Jews of Morris and Sussex: Early Settlers, Synagogues, Hotel Resorts and Lake Communities”; “One More Night at Elving’s Metropolitan Yiddish Theater,” a combination of photos and performance recalling the only successful commercial Yiddish theater in Newark and all of New Jersey; the popular “Weequahic Memoirs: Celebrating Newark’s Legendary Neighborhood,” and milestone anniversary exhibits for Jewish Family Service, Rachel Coalition, Daughters of Israel, Jewish Service for the Developmentally Disabled, and others.
Among JHS’s largest collections are the founding of New Jersey’s first Jewish hospital in 1901, Newark Beth Israel, and New Jersey’s first home for the Jewish aged, Daughters of Israel, founded in 1906. There are records of a long-tenured mutual benefit society, the IKUV (or Israel Kranken Untersteutzung Verein) from 1888 through 1989; the papers of community leader Michael Stavitsky; bound copies of the Jewish News from 1946 to present; and a full run on microfilm of the Jewish Chronicle from 1921-1944. Of interest are records of five of New Jersey’s oldest congregations founded in the mid-19th century: Temple B’nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, Oheb Shalom and Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, and B’nai Israel in Millburn. MetroWest has great history!
JHS is located at the Aidekman Jewish Community Campus in Whippany. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Fridays 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Appointments are recommended and tours of the archives are welcome. In addition, researchers are assisted by a full time archivist and curator who are on hand to answer questions or pull collections from JHS’s climate-controlled archives vault. The staff responds to e-mail inquiries and phone calls.
For additional information, contact executive director and curator Linda Forgosh at (973) 929-2994 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact archivist Jill Hershorin at (973) 929-2995 or email@example.com. Researchers and those interested in the history of Jewish life in greater MetroWest can search the JHS website at www.jhs-nj.org.