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PATERSON , city in N.E. New Jersey. Jews first settled in Paterson in the early 1840s. In 1904 there were 1,250 Jews in the city, and the Jewish population increased to about 35,000 in the late 1940s. However, by 1960 the number declined to 15,000. By 2000, the Jewish population of Paterson declined to less than 1,000 – with approximately 30,000 Jews living in the surrounding communities of Wayne, Fair Lawn, Franklin Lakes, Wyckoff, Oakland, Pompton Lakes, Glen Rock, and Ridgewood. Jewish settlers of the 1840s came from Germany, Bohemia, and Hungary. They were primarily tailors and merchants. In 1847 a group of them organized Congregation B'nai Jeshurun, becoming the first Jewish congregation in New Jersey. In the late 1870s Congregation B'nai Jeshurun gradually changed from a traditional Orthodox synagogue to a more liberal Reform congregation. An Orthodox group was to maintain a daily minyan on a lower level through their years in Paterson. In 1894 a new large, impressive synagogue was built on the corner of Broadway and Straight Street due to the generosity of Nathan *Barnert, a Jewish philanthropist, who served as mayor of Paterson from 1883 to 1886 and was re-elected in 1889. A bronze statue at the Paterson City Hall Plaza was dedicated in his honor in 1925. Barnert, who also served two terms as alderman in the 1870s, was later to establish the Miriam Barnert Hebrew Free School, the Nathan and Miriam Barnert Hospital and the Barnert Home for Orphans and the Aged.

In 1886 the Russian and Polish Jews who had migrated to Paterson in the early 1880s did not wish to affiliate with Congregation B'nai Jeshurun because of this synagogue's trend toward Reform Judaism. They organized their own congregation, Congregation B'nai Israel. Another large and impressive synagogue was built on Godwin Street, becoming known as the Big Shul. Romanian Jews established Ahavath Joseph Congregation, known as the Little Shul, a block away on Godwin Street in the early 1900s. The Lubavitch founded the United Brotherhood Anshai Lodz or Polish Shul on Fair Street in the early 1900s. In 1907 a Conservative synagogue, Congregation Emanuel, was dedicated on Van Houten Street, moving to Broadway and East 33rd Street in 1929. Congregation Ohav Sholom, another Orthodox shul, was founded about 1915. The Water Street Shul was organized and built on the North West side of the Passaic River. Paterson also maintained a mikveh on Paterson Street. Even with this growth in Jewish life, there was growing antagonism towards Jews and other "new immigrants" at this time. Newspaper editorials clearly indicated that undesirable Europeans were those from southern and Eastern Europe, including the Jews then beginning to arrive from Russia and Poland. These Jewish immigrants, who had fled the Russian pogroms, especially those in the Polish textile centers of Lodz and Bialystok in 1905 and 1906, were attracted to the "Silk City" of Paterson. A sampling of Russian Jews in Paterson reported by the U.S. Immigration Commission in 1911 indicated that more than 91% had worked in textile mills prior to coming to the United States. Gradually the new Jewish immigrants moved into a troubled silk industry. New and improved machinery had made it possible for employers to replace skilled, expensive English, German, and Irish labor with less skilled and cheaper Jewish, Italian, and other "new immigrant" labor, creating antisemitic feeling in the city. The exposure of Jewish workers to radical ideas, labor organizations, and strikes in Europe helped to continue Paterson's long tradition of labor troubles. Close to 5,000 Jews worked in the silk industry in 1913. When a bitter strike erupted that year, the Jewish textile workers joined other ethnic workers to fight against the four-loom system, the fine system, and the blacklist. As labor difficulties continued even after the strike, many silk manufacturers moved their factories to Pennsylvania coalmining towns and to the South. Many Jews acquired machinery during the 1920s and opened small shops often with only one or two employees. During the 1920s, as many as 90% of the silk-manufacturing shops in Paterson were operated by Polish Jews. Competition was intense, and few shops prospered. By the end of World War ii the silk industry in Paterson had virtually disappeared, while the city's other important sources of employment and economic activity, in addition to manufacturing, retail, and wholesale establishments, began a period of stagnation.

After 1940, the city's suburbs, Clifton to the south, Fair Lawn to the east, and Wayne to the west, grew substantially, as did their Jewish populations. The number of Jewish congregations in Paterson declined after 1945. In 2005, the last remaining synagogue in Paterson – Temple Emanuel – was preparing to move to Franklin Lakes, the present home of Barnert Temple-Congregation B'nai Jeshurun. The only Jewish presence remaining in Paterson would be the yeshiva on Park Avenue and the Jewish Federation Apartments.

Distinguished Jewish residents, or former residents of Paterson, include United States Senator Frank *Lautenberg, who served in the Senate from 1982 to 2000 and was elected to a fourth term in 2002; father-and-son poets Louis and Allen *Ginsberg; former Democratic Congressman Charles S. Joelson, who served as a judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey; Jacob Fabian, theater mogul in the 1920s whose generous philanthropy made it possible to build the magnificent and historic Temple Emanuel sanctuary; and Henry and Joe Taub, founders of Automatic Data Processing (adp). Henry Taub was the president of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

Passaic County Jewish Organizational Life

Yavneh Academy was founded in 1942 as the Paterson Yavneh Yeshiva. It started with six children in its kindergarten. In 1954, it erected a school in Paterson and later moved to Paramus in 1981. A Workmen's Circle Children's school, also called the "Shula," opened in Paterson in 1921. The Gerrard Berman Day School: Solomon Schechter of North Jersey opened in Pomp-ton Lakes in 1985 and moved to its current Oakland location in 1993. In 1906 a small group of young women who met regularly at the Barnert Hebrew Free School came together to form the ywha. In 1914 the ymha was incorporated and five years later it moved to Orpheus Hall on Broadway. In 1976 the ym-ywha of North Jersey opened in Wayne to serve the cultural, social, educational, health, and physical recreation needs of the suburban Passaic County Jewish community. In the 1970s Wayne became a major hub of Jewish life for suburban Passaic. It had three synagogues – Congregation Shomrei Torah, Temple Beth Tikvah, and the Chabad Center of Passaic County. The Jewish Federation of North Jersey was evolved from the Jewish Community Council of Paterson, founded in 1933 to coordinate the work of various organizations in their local and national fund-raising campaigns. In 2004, the Federation merged with the uja Federation of Bergen County & North Hudson to form the uja Federation of Northern New Jersey. In 1944 the Jewish Social Service Bureau of Paterson was formed to oversee the welfare of homeless Jewish children. This agency was later to become Jewish Family and Children's Service. Daughters of Miriam Home for Orphans and the Aged first opened in 1921 in Paterson as an orphanage and elderly shelter. In 1926 it moved to its current location in Clifton and became strictly a nursing home in the 1950s.

[Alan J. Grossman (2nd ed.)]


Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey, Our Paterson Jewish Heritage (1987); W.N. Jamison, Religion in New Jersey (1964); R.J. Vecoli, People of New Jersey (1965); U.S. Immigration Commission, Immigrants in Industries, Pt. 5: Silk Goods… (1911); W. Nelson and C.A. Shriner, History of Paterson and Its Environs, 3 vols. (1920); J. Haberman, Jews in New Jersey (Ms. Rutgers University); M.W. Garber, "Silk Industry of Paterson New Jersey" (1968; unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Rutgers University); J. Nathans, "The World of the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey," unpublished address (2002).

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