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New Jersey: Hudson County

HUDSON COUNTY, county in N.E. New Jersey. Despite its proximity to New York City, Hudson County is not known to have been settled by Jews before the middle of the 19th century. The first synagogue, Congregation Ephraim, was founded in 1872 in Jersey City, where the first Jewish family arrived in 1858. This city's oldest existing congregations are Temple Beth-El, on York Street, founded in 1864, and B'nai Israel, established in 1882. Temple Beth-El moved into its magnificent sanctuary in 1926 at what is now the corner of Harrison Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard. In 1878 a second congregation was organized in neighboring Bayonne. In 1896 Congregation Beth Abraham was opened in Bayonne. Hoboken's first synagogue, Adath Emuno, was founded in 1871 when it opened with 55 members. The Moses Montefiore congregation was established in 1892 in Hoboken, and it numbered 60 members at its founding. A wave of East European immigration in the early 1900s led to the formation of further synagogues throughout the county. In 1900 a Young Men's Hebrew Association was founded in Jersey City. The majestic Congregation Mount Sinai building in Jersey City was opened in 1910. West New York's Congregation Shaare Zedek opened in 1919. The United Synagogue of Hoboken was organized in 1947 through the union of the Hoboken Jewish Center – founded in the 1920s as a Conservative congregation – and the Congregation Star of Israel – organized in 1910 as an Orthodox congregation. A typical pattern was for Jewish communities to come first into existence in the port areas along the Hudson River and then gradually to move back into the more suburban setting of the heights to the west. This process was hastened in the years after World War II, as suburbanization increased and the commuter age brought an exodus to New Jersey of many Jewish families from New York City. Concomitantly, other Hudson County Jews began to move out of the county entirely to the nearby but less industrialized North Hudson and Bergen Counties. However, Jewish life in Hudson County began to experience a resurgence in the late 1980s, as young Jewish singles, couples, and families began to move into Hoboken and neighboring towns. The 1990s brought a remarkable revival of Jewish religious and cultural activity in Hoboken. A young and vigorous section of the National Council of Jewish Women was established; there was a total reorganization of the Jewish Family Service of Jersey City, Bayonne, and Hoboken; and a United Jewish Communities Young Leadership Division was founded.

The Jewish Family & Counseling Service, headquartered in Bayonne, offers a senior companion station, Kosher Meals-on-Wheels, support groups, an emergency kosher food pantry, and emergency shelter. The Yeshiva of Hudson County and its affiliated Rogosin High School, in Union City and Jersey City respectively, were noted for their high standards of scholarship and drew students from many communities. The Yeshiva began in 1938, with eight students. Its first main building was at the Five Corners Talmud Torah in Jersey City before moving to Union City in 1947. As the population it served increasingly moved to nearby Bergen County, the school was renamed the Yeshiva of North Jersey, and it opened several sites in Bergen County before permanently moving to River Edge in 1993. The Jewish Home and Rehabilitation Center, which moved to Rockleigh, New Jersey in 2001, was founded in Jersey City 1915 as the Hebrew Orphans Home of Hudson County. Over the years it evolved into the Hebrew Home for Orphans and the Aged. In the 1950s it became the largest medical hospital in New Jersey. In 1970 a long-term care facility was opened by the Home in River Vale, New Jersey and the name Jewish Home and Rehabilitation Center was adopted. The first adult day care program in New Jersey was established at the Home's Jersey City facility. The Jewish Standard, New Jersey's oldest Anglo-Jewish newspaper, was founded in Hudson County by Morris J. Janoff in 1931. The newspaper moved to Bergen County in the early 1950s. The Bayonne Jewish Community Center has served the community since 1952. This JCC offers a full range of programs, from early childhood classes to older adult services. The Federations currently serving this area are the UJA Federation of Bayonne and the UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, which serves North Hudson County. The non-Federated United Jewish Appeal of Jersey City also serves the community.

In the early 2000s, the Jewish population of Hudson County numbered approximately 11,800. There are approximately 6,000 Jews in Jersey City; an estimated 1,600 in Bayonne; approximately 1,400 in Hoboken; and an estimated 2,800 in North Hudson County.



[Mort Cornin /Alan J. Grossman (2nd ed.)]

Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.