May 30, 2024
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Times are Always Changing in Hudson County

Having read about the YJCC in Washington Township recently, I was not surprised with its closure. I am well aware first hand of communities’ changing dynamics and their fluctuating needs ranging from intense vibrancy and growth to its potential final demise. Reality is that life does not stand still and change is inevitable. The survival of the fittest reigns supreme and there are a variety of factors contributing to the end result.

Having grown up as a rabbi’s daughter of Rabbi Harold Hirschman z”l, who was both the rabbi of Temple Israel Emanuel for over 40 years starting in the late 1940s and a notable rav in Yeshiva of Hudson County during its existence, I can personally attest to the gradual shift of population from the once-vibrant Hudson County Jewish community migrating to areas in northern New Jersey and Rockland County.

For all those who can remember, Temple Israel Emanuel was a replica of the first synagogue in the United States in Rhode Island, with its top balcony overlooking the main floor to the men’s section and Aron Kodesh. It was located on 34th Street in Union City and was once an active synagogue boasting a vibrant shul, Jewish Community Center around the corner and an elementary school, Yeshiva of Hudson County, servicing Jewish families in the surrounding areas including West New York, Bayonne, North Bergen and Jersey City. I witnessed first hand the dwindling of a Modern Orthodox synagogue whose constituency was literally reduced to barely a minyan on the High Holidays. The changing demographics became obvious. The neighborhood school, Yeshiva of Hudson County, eventually morphed to become the Rosenberg Mesivta of North Jersey in River Edge, which we all know is currently soaring with a healthy constituency of over 1,000 students.

We were fortunate to have the Klausenburger Mesivta Sanz Rebbe take interest in Union City, and both the vacant shul plus the massive Jewish Community Center building was finally taken over by them for their shul and mesivta needs. Because of the Klausenburgers, Yiddishkeit is once again thriving in Union City after a lull and void…who could have predicted? I have only admirable accolades for the Klausenburger Mesivta Sanz of Union City as a warm, caring and genuine community of people who deserve all the hakaras hatov in the world. Today, it is obvious that the Klausenburg community live amicably alongside the dominant Cuban population in the enclave of Union City.

By the way, anyone who wants to catch a minyan traveling via the Lincoln Tunnel to or from NYC is welcome to daven with the Mesivta community—they are the most gracious, friendly, sincere community, welcoming all to come daven with them, whether it be for Megillah reading on Purim or for Selichot during the month of Elul,

And, so, change is inevitable whether it’s planned or not. I hope the community of YJCC accepts its fate with the underlying hopes of re-opening, which is always an option.

Kudos to Jerry Nathans for setting up their new home for the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey. You can be assured that I’ve already sent memorabilia and pics to commemorate the once-flourishing Jewish community in Union City of yesteryear.

By Ruby Kaplan

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