Something unique happened when Jews immigrated to Paterson in the early 20th century. Instead of sewing shirtwaists and schmattahs in sweatshops, they came as skilled weavers from the Russian Polish textile centers of Lodz and Bialystok.
They brought strong notions of social justice and living righteously;
Despite this, Paterson Jews defend the aging, gritty city as a wonderful place, and they never left it spiritually or emotionally. Former and current residents recall the Hamilton Avenue bagel bakery, Purity Cooperative rye bread, candy stores, delicatessens, the YMHA, bar mitzvah coaches, rabbis, the baby doctor, pediatricians, schoolteachers, and even the synagogue shammes.
They remember and honor the past as a bridge between the present and the future. Jews of Paterson is more than just nostalgia; it is the remarkable story of how a particular group built a community and made it into a special place.
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