Monday, December 11, 2017

From the Mailbag - November 2017

Comments Thanksgiving 2017

Dick Hochman
Dec 10 (1 day ago)

to me




A. Richard Ross
4:06 PM (15 hours ago)

to me
Read the item about Hoenig & Swern with interest. An earlier, and perhaps first Jewish owned store was Wirtschafter’s. The family was hit hard by the depression and moved to LA where they thrived. One of my mother’s good childhood friends was Joan Wirtschafter Isen who was 19 when the family headed West. She was the last Trenton member of the family, passing in July 2016 in her 96th year.

German Jews

German Jews settled in Trenton, the state capital, in the 1840s, the most prominent among them being Simon Kahnweiler, a merchant and manufacturer. His brothers followed shortly thereafter: Leon and Emanuel.
Sidney Goldman wrote the 1840s bought additional German Jewish families to the area: Dannenburg, Kahn, Schoninger, Frank and Mankos. The 1850s gave us the names: Goldberg, Rosenblatt, Samler, Weinberg, Lowenstein, Solomon, Bohn and others. See Sidney Goldman
Eventually, these German Jews incorporated the Mt. Sinai Cemetery Association was incorporated in the town in 1857 and Har Sinai Congregation held its first service in 1858.

This is not a complete list. The Wirshafter and Rice families belong there also should also be on the list, among others.

E Jan Kounitz
6:11 PM (14 hours ago)

to me
Hello Arthur,
Hope this finds you in good health & spirits ready for the holiday season.

Just took a look-see at the below info and  “On-the-Map”    True .. ‘blasts-from-the-past.’

Hadn’t seen those two  shanna punums  (sp.?) in over 50 years!    Both were childhood associates. 
I actually was on the same basketball team at the YMHA with Tal Brody, the Maccabees ... he played I kept the bench warm !
And Steve Raam was in my Cub Scout Den .

Presently  waiting for  Dr. Coenen  to get back in touch to set a date to pick up my collage.

Hope you have a very pleasant Thanksgiving.


Arthur Frank
Just so folks can identify, Workmen's Circle is Pitman Ave off Cedar Lane - is it not?

Art - You are, as usual, correct.

I wanted to identify the general area

Sunday, November 19, 2017

“On The Map” with Trenton’s own Tal Brody

 “On The Map” with Trenton’s own Tal Brody, Trenton was represented by Steve and Iris Daner, Jon Weber and his wife, Bruce Zagnit, TCHS Class of 1961 President Jimmy Carrigan and myself (Steven Raam). 

Sunday, November 12, 2017


Some of the pioneers in what, in the best sense of the term, is Trenton's "big business" were such men as Henderson G. Scudder, Sering P. Dunham, John H. Scudder, Joseph Allen Southwick, Colonel Eckford Moore, Thomas C. Hill, Captain Lawrence Farrell, John W. Manning, William J. Convery, William Dolton, John Taylor, Frank J. Wetzel, James C. Tattersall, John G. Conner, Richard Wilson, the Colemans, the Vannests, the Thomases, the Richardsons and others, all of whom have left their mark on the trade of the city. Some of them have been succeeded in business by their sons and their sons' sons, so that in these later days big mercantile interests are in the hands of such men as Edward W. Dunham, William V. Coleman, J. Ferd Convery, John W. Manning, Frederick W. Donnelly, Frederick S. Donnelly, Horace Mann, Nevius Brothers and others.
Trenton's value as a merchandising center early impressed itself upon keen minds in other places and has continued to do so. The result has been the constant opening of new enterprises and the introduction of new blood into those already established. These newcomers have included men from nearby towns and farming communities, as well as from the larger cities. Smith Lamson came here from South Jersey, after a bit of experience in Bordentown, and soon associated himself with the Dunham concern. H. M. and E. D. Voorhees came from Hightstown, first to clerk for others and soon to have a magnificent store of their own. The Dunhams came originally from Somerville, where the Nevius brothers were also located with one of their branch stores.
Then, too, came the Goldbergs, the Wirtschafters, the Hoenigs, the Swerns, the Lissners, the Hiedelmans, the Urkens, the Cohens, the Kuhns, the Fulds and scores of other Jewish merchants who have built up great business enterprises, often from such humble beginnings as to add romance to the always interesting story of buying and selling.

Two especially notable instances of Jewish success may be mentioned. Isaac Goldberg came to America as a poor Russian immigrant. He was imbued with the idea of making enough money to do for children what no one had done for him in the way of pleasure and recreation. His advent in Trenton was in the nature of a canvasser from door to door. In a few years he was the owner of a great department store, with a silk-manufacturing branch in Japan and connections with the great marts of the world. A few years more he was the president of a bank, established largely through his own enterprise and initiative. And as soon as he prospered he began doing something for the children of the poor, so that for years the Goldberg picnics for boys and girls in humble circumstances have been among the recognized and appreciated philanthropies of Trenton. Then there is the case of Henry Wirtschafter. Beaten down in Philadelphia by circumstances over which he had no control, Mr. Wirtschafter loaded a few belongings on a small cart and pushed it the thirty miles and more to Trenton. Here, with his clever wife for a clerk as well as a source of comfort and encouragement, he established a store so small that it was sometimes jeeringly referred to as a "hole in the wall." But that was not for long. The business grew amazingly and in a comparatively few years the little store gave place to a big one, one of the more prominent department stores of the city.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Yiddish, Part 7

Or shmuts. Dirt – a little dirt, not serious grime. If a little boy has shmutz on his face, and he likely will, his mother will quickly wipe it off. It can also mean dirty language. It’s not nice to talk shmutz about shmutz. A current derivation, “schmitzig,” means a “thigamabob” or a “doodad,” but has nothing to do with filth.

Something you’re known for doing, an entertainer’s routine, an actor’s bit, stage business; a gimmick often done to draw attention to yourself.

Or tshatshke. Knick-knack, little toy, collectible or giftware. It also appears in sentences such as, “My brother divorced his wife for some little tchatchke.” You can figure that one out.

Or tsores. Serious troubles, not minor annoyances. Plagues of lice, gnats, flies, locusts, hail, death… now, those were tsuris.

Rear end, bottom, backside, buttocks. In proper Yiddish, it’s spelled tuchis or tuches or tokhis, and was the origin of the American slang word tush.

Female busybody or gossip. At one time, high-class parents gave this name to their girls (after all, it has the same root as “gentle”), but it gained the Yiddish meaning of “she-devil”. The matchmaker in “Fiddler on the Roof” was named Yente (and she certainly was a yente though maybe not very high-class), so many people mistakenly think that yente means matchmaker.

yiddisher kop
Smart person. Literally means “Jewish head.” I don’t want to know what goyisher kop means.
As in Hebrew, the ch or kh in Yiddish is a “voiceless fricative,” with a pronunciation between h and k. If you don’t know how to make that sound, pronounce it like an h. Pronouncing it like a k is goyish.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Selected Yiddish Words and Phrases 10 (Impress friends and family)

NARRISHKEIT: Foolishness, trivia.

NEBBISH: An inadequate person, a loser.

NOODGE: To bother, to push, a person who bothers you.

NOSH: To snack. NOSHERYE refers to food.

NU: Has many meanings including, "so?; How are things?; how about it?; What can one do?; I dare you!"

NUDNIK: A pest, a persistent and annoying person. 

Selected Yiddish Words and Phrases 9 (Impress friends and family)

MISHEGOSS: Inappropriate, crazy, or bizarre actions or beliefs.

MISHPOCHA: Family, usually extended family.

MOMZER: A bastard, an untrustworthy person.

MOYL: The man who circumcises baby boys at a briss.

NACH A MOOL: And so on.

NACHES: Joy. To "shep naches" means to derive pleasure. Jewish children are expected to provide their parent with naches in the form of achievement. 

Selected Yiddish Words and Phrases 8 (Impress friends and family)

MAZEL TOV: Good luck, usually said as a statement of support or congratulations.

MEESA MASHEENA: A horrible death. The phrase "a messa mashee af deer" means a horrible death to you and is used as a curse. Some have suggested that Masheena is the origin for the insulting name for Jews of sheeny.

MEESKAIT: A little ugly one; a person or thing.

MEGILLAH: Long, complicated and boring.

MENSCH: A person of character. An individual of recognized worth because of noble values or actions.

MESHUGGE or MESHUGGINA: Crazy, refers to a more chronic disturbance. 

Selected Yiddish Words and Phrases 7 (Impress friends and family)

KVETCH: To annoy or to be an annoying person, to complain. 

LOCH IN KOP: Literally a hole in the head, refers to things one definitely does not need.

LUFTMENSH: A dreamer, someone whose head is in the clouds.

LUZZEM: Leave him be, let her or him alone.

MACH SHNEL: Hurry up.

MACHER: An ambitious person; a schemer with many plans.

MAVEN: An expert, a connoisseur. 

Yiddish, Part 5

To drag, traditionally something you don’t really need; to carry unwillingly. When people “shlep around,” they are dragging themselves, perhaps slouchingly. On vacation, when I’m the one who ends up carrying the heavy suitcase I begged my wife to leave at home, I shlep it.

A clumsy, inept person, similar to a klutz (also a Yiddish word). The kind of person who always spills his soup.

Cheap, shoddy, or inferior, as in, “I don’t know why I bought this schlocky souvenir.”

Someone with constant bad luck. When the shlemiel spills his soup, he probably spills it on the shlimazel. Fans of the TV sitcom “Laverne and Shirley” remember these two words from the Yiddish-American hopscotch chant that opened each show.

A jerk, a stupid person, popularized in The Last Unicorn and Welcome Back Kotter.

Cemetery - Workingmen's Circle - Cedar Lane

The Trenton Jewish Historical Society is vigorously investigating this cemetery and other 'orphan' cemeteries (sponsors that have ceased to exist - B'nai Abraham, Ansche Emes, Ansche Fife, Adath Jeshuran,  Brith Shalom, etc.)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Celebration of the History of Music in Trenton

A Celebration of the History of Music in Trenton
Posted on September 28, 2014

Sarah Dash
The College of New Jersey School of the Arts and Communication, together with support from the Department of Music, African-American Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, First Seminar Program, English, and the Office of Equity and Diversity are pleased to announce two events held in celebration of the rich history of music in Trenton this fall.
Please join us on Wednesday, September 24 from 11-12:00PM in Mayo Concert Hall (Music Building) for a free public lecture by singer and actress Ms. Sarah Dash of the iconic genre-defying trio Labelle. Along with fellow Labelle members Patti Labelle and fellow Trenton native Nona Hendryx, Ms. Dash has been recognized by scholars and journalists as an important contributor to trends in music and popular culture in the 1960’s and 70’s. Beginning as the Bluebelles, they garnered critical acclaim in the early 1960’s with soaring renditions of standards such as “Danny Boy,” “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” They reinvented themselves in the 1970’s with elaborate stage shows, glam rock costuming and a bold repertoire that included their best known hit, “Lady Marmalade.
In her lecture, Ms. Dash will speak about how her upbringing in the African-American church in Trenton, as well as the city’s public schools, contributed to her early musical development. She will discuss some of the challenges she faced as a black woman in an industry rife with tales of race, gender and financial exploitation. She has also promised to share rarely seen performance footage and photos.
Clifford Adams was born and raised in Trenton, NJ and briefly attended Trenton State College to study trombone. Since then, he has played with many of the jazz greats, names that resound throughout history and remain vibrant in the present by their influence on modern music forms such as tenor saxophonist Gene Ammons, bebop era saxophonist Sonny Stitt and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard. Most notably, Mr. Adams spent decades in the horn section of the long-time pop-funk band Kool and the Gang and is recognized for his solos in hits such as “Joanna,” “Jungle Boogie,” and “Hollywood Swinging.”

Dr. Sidney Pestka Trenton Connection

Dr. Sidney Pestka

Known as the "Father of Interferon," Rutgers biochemistry department chairman Sidney Pestka, 80, of North Caldwell, N.J., passed on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016. He was born in Drobin, Poland, moved near family to the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., at 21 months of age, and at age eight to Trenton, N.J., where he excelled at Trenton Central High School. He received a scholarship to Princeton University, from where he graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in chemistry, and received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine on full scholarship.
Afterwards, he worked at the National Institutes of Health in the laboratory of Marshall W. Nirenberg. Dr. Pestka's early work on the genetic code, protein synthesis and ribosome function led to Nirenberg's 1968 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
In 1969, Dr. Pestka left the NIH for the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology, where he focused on defining how antibiotics worked and proteins are synthesized and, later, interferons.
There Dr. Pestka was first to purify interferon alpha and beta; the first to clone mature interferons; and the first to develop a commercialized recombinant biotherapeutic-Roferon A. Dr. Pestka is known as the "Father of Interferon" for his seminal work on interferon, work that gave birth to a $6 billion dollar market directed at the therapy of hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and other diseases that affect mankind. Dr. Pestka was Emeritus Professor of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, which he joined in 1986 and where he served as chairman for 25 years. In 1990, he founded PBL Assay Science -today a company of 35 employees -to develop cytokine assays and reagents and to expand interferon's clinical utility in cancer and viral diseases. Dr. Pestka is named inventor on 270 U.S. and foreign patents and has 665 publications and abstracts in his name. He has edited five books related to protein biosynthesis and interferons -several of which are classics and still cited today. He holds an honorary doctorate in science from Rider University and has played an important role at the International Cytokine and Interferon Society, where he served as secretary, vice president, and president. He was awarded the 2001 National Medal of Technology by President George W. Bush. He received the Seymour & Vivian Milstein Award for Excellence in Interferon and Cytokine Research; the Warren Alpert Foundation Prize from Harvard Medical School; the Lemelson-MIT Lifetime Achievement Award; the Molecular Biology Medal from the National Institutes of Health for his role in deciphering the genetic code and the mechanism of protein synthesis; and the Edward J. Ill Outstanding Medical Research Scientist Award for Basic Biomedical Research. Dr. Pestka is survived by his wife of 56 years, Joan; his sister, Doris Goldman; his three children, Steven, Sharon, and Robert and their spouses Caroline, Ned, and Kazumi; and nine grandchildren, Hannah, Eleanor, Leela, Maya, Beatrice, Ashenafi, Robin, Sabina and Harry. Funeral Services were Friday at Temple Sholom of West Essex in Cedar Grove, N.J. The period of mourning will be observed at the Pestka residence in North Caldwell.

Published in Star-Ledger from Dec. 23 to Dec. 27, 2016- See more at: